Studies have shown in the past that there is racial bias in classrooms. Many say that African American students are treated more poorly than Caucasian American students. Examples include less student-teacher interaction, less praise given and less help being given to African American students. A recent study showed that approximately 9 out of 10 teachers are Caucasian females from predominantly suburban settings. The study concluded that, from their background, these Caucasian female teachers had little contact with the African American culture, thus making it slightly more difficult to work with them and having a low tolerance towards them and their actions.
In this article, an experiment was performed that would show whether former studies still remained true. 417 seventh graders were chosen for this experiment, all living in southeastern Louisiana. The students that were studied were 184 African Americans (101 girls, 83 boys); 233 Caucasian Americans (121 girls, 112 boys). The selected class was a social studies classroom made up of “low achievers”. This class was chosen because it should have proven to have the most interaction between student and teacher. 16 Caucasian female teachers were also chosen, 2 from 8 schools. They were chosen by the principal because of many years of teaching experience and positive evaluations for all of their years teaching. After being studies for 32 hours (between all classrooms), the results were figured. When asked questions, Caucasian students responded more than African American students did. They raised their hands more often and always tended to be involved with the discussion. It was also shown that when questions were given that required deep thought to answer, Caucasian children were called upon almost twice as much as the other students. When it comes to praise, Caucasian American students received more than African American students, both for correct and incorrect answers. When a Caucasian student responded incorrectly, they were praised slightly, at least for answering, and directed towards the correct answer. However, when an African American student, answered incorrectly, they were told that they were wrong and the question was moved onto another person.
This study showed also that females had more interaction with teachers than did the males in the class. The females, of both races, tended to be more outgoing and involved in all discussions. The males were called on more frequently than females, mostly because the teacher thought that they weren’t paying attention. In conclusion, in most every aspect where race was a factor, Caucasian students received more attention, more praise, and more interaction with the teacher than did African American students.
I thought at the beginning of the article that I knew what the outcome would be. If you have never lived near or interacted with people from other cultures, not only African Americans, but Bosnians, Asians, and Russians included, you do not know how to act towards them. Whether a teacher or a friend, the most important thing that we don’t want to do is offend them or make them think that they are inferior. A few years ago, I spent a day in the ESL room at Proctor High School. It was definitely a mix of cultures and it was so exciting to be there. I did notice while I was there that some students did not get called on. When I questioned this after class, the teacher told me that it was because if they didn’t raise their hand, she assumed that hey didn’t know the answer. If they didn’t know, she didn’t want to call on them and risk embarrassing them in front of their peers. I agree that sometimes this is true, especially in a room where there is more of one culture than there is of another. The students tend to “compete” against one another and if their answer is wrong, they are “the dumb culture” as opposed to another where more people answer questions correctly.
After reading this article, I think that teachers need more experience before getting placed in a permanent classroom. When becoming a teacher, one has to realize that they are not going to always be placed in a room full of “perfect kids”. Especially now with the intense immigration rate,
classrooms are going to be very diverse and no one should be left out or put down. Even children with learning disabilities are included in “regular” classrooms now, so before going into a classroom, teachers need to see what is in store for them. the need to learn how to deal with many people, many cultures, and need to know how to include everyone into every day tasks.
I am almost positive that I won’t have a racial/culture bias when I begin teaching. I feel like I’ve been there and done that already! I was involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters for a few years and my “little brother” was African American. I played with him and his friends almost every day and we did a lot
together. I heard many stories about what they have to deal with in school and from that day forward I swore that I would never be like all the racially biased people in the world today. Anyone not of the “dominant race” will get picked on in school and out of school. We don’t need teacher to add to a
student’s low self-esteem by ignoring them or always deeming their answers wrong. I also worked with a small group of children at the Kumon reading center. In schools, they seem to lead worse lives than anyone else! Sometimes the teachers can’t interact with them or speak to them because of language barriers, and instead of finding someone else to help out, some students are ignored and their questions not answered.
Every day people talk about the youth of America and how they will become teachers, lawyers, maybe even the president someday! Before these children can get anywhere, they need to have a good education behind them and having poorly educated teachers is going to get them nowhere fast.