Source: The Prejudice Book by David Shiman, Anti-Defamation League, 1994 - (Reprinted with Permission from the Anti-Defamation League)
Activity #22: Effects of Stereotyping
Goal: To help students examine their own actions to see how they may be affected by stereotyping and prejudging.
1. GENDER-ROLES: Ask students to think about their own lives and identify how being a female or male might have caused them to act in certain ways, or has caused other people to treat them in certain ways. You might want to pose the following questions:
- Have you ever done something just because you thought it was the "right" thing for someone of your gender to do?
- Have you ever not done something because you didn't think it was the "right" thing for someone of your gender to do?
- Have you ever been asked to do something (or been expected to act in a certain way) because of your particular gender?
- Have you ever been not allowed to do something because of your particular gender?
If necessary, stimulate this discussion by asking the students to think about performing household responsibilities (e.g., setting the table, carrying out the trash, shoveling snow), playing with certain toys, participating in certain games, showing feelings (e.g., crying), or planning careers. Have the students share their own experiences. Help them to identify the stereotype associated with the experience. Finally, create female and male "profiles" derived from the "do's" and "don'ts" in each of their experiences. Ask them to respond to the following questions:
- Is there anything on the list associated with the opposite gender that you should also be allowed to do?
- Who should decide what is proper behavior?
- Do you feel that gender-role expectations should exist?
- In what ways do gender-role expectations limit or free you?
2. GENDER-ROLES: Hand out a ditto of "It's My Choice, Isn't It?" and have students check their individual responses.
"It's My Choice, Isn't It?"
What do you feel it means to be male or female? Check off everything on the list that you feel applies to you.
Because I am a boy, I would not
Because I am a girl, I would not
help my mother around the house
hit a girl
kiss my father
wear an earring or necklace
back out of fight
carry a purse
ask a girl to pay for her own way on a date
play with dolls
sew a button on my shirt
hold hands with another boy
dress like a man in a play
climb a tree
wear a tie
beat a boy at a sport or game
try to join a boy's club or team
hit a boy
swear out loud
get into a fist fight
do repairs around the house
build a birdhouse
hold the door for a boy
pay for my own ticket on a date
ask a boy out for a date
After the students have completed the checklist, tally the responses. Ask questions of the students which explore the reasons they would or would not act in certain ways, the appropriateness of having such sex-role categorizations, and the implications for themselves and society at large of perpetuating these types of role behaviors. The questions offered at the end of the previous activity might help in guiding this discussion as well.
(Adapted from: Today's Changing Roles: An Approach to Non-Sexist Teaching, Washington, D.C., National Education Association, 1974.)
3. RACIAL or ETHNIC GROUP or CLASS: Use the hypothetical situations offered below which are most appropriate for your class.
Read the paragraph to the students and use the questions provided to guide the discussion.
a) Let's pretend that you learn that a man from Africa is going to come to your class. You have never met Africans but have seen them on television and have read about them. What do you think he will be like, e.g., dress, language, mannerisms? How do you think you will feel? How will you act towards him at first?
b) Let's pretend that an Asian-American family with several school-age children has just moved into your neighborhood. This is the first Asian-American family to live in your section of town. Although you have not met many Asian-Americans, you have heard your parents and friends talk about them and have seen them on television shows and in movies. What do you think the children will be like? How do you think you will feel having them in your school, in your own classroom or sitting next to you? How do you think you will act towards them at first?
c) Let's pretend that a new family has moved into the neighborhood. You learn that they are very rich and that there is a daughter who will be in your class. That's all you know. What thoughts might you have? What would you expect her to be like? How might you behave towards her at first? Now, rethink your responses. Would they be the same if you had been told that a rich boy would be in your class?
Discussions of statements such as these might lead the class to examine the nature and sources of stereotypes as well as inferences or generalizations we draw from previous experiences. Again, the "Personal Contact Inventory" (Activity #11) might be helpful. You would also want to discuss the ways in which prejudging people can reduce our opportunities to make new friends or to learn from others and/or can hurt another person's feelings.
1. To help the students to relate the issues of prejudging and stereotyping to their own lives, ask if any students have been the victims of prejudging by someone else. You might offer a personal example to get the ball rolling.
Some of the questions that might be addressed:
- In what ways were you prejudged?
- What do you think the other person was basing his/her prejudgment on?
- How did it affect you?
- How were you treated?
- How did you feel?
- How did you react?
- What finally happened? To you? To others?
Besides merely discussing the experience as it actually took place, suggest alternative scenarios to the students (e.g., What if you hadn't been prejudged in that particular way? Or if you had been prejudged in another way? What might have happened then?) This activity can also be reversed, i.e., you might ask the students to offer examples of instances in which they have prejudged another and build the discussion from that.
2. Students can take the responsibility for educating the rest of the school about the dangers of stereotyping. As a class, they might identify a particular group about whom they believe other students hold certain stereotypes or distorted pictures. Utilizing one of the school bulletin boards, they might proceed to teach the other students about the process of stereotyping and its harmful effects, and, by using a collage or other techniques, instruct the school in the ways that the image of a certain group has been distorted in our society. Students might also identify examples of people who are portrayed in ways that are contrary to the traditional stereotype. These might be added to the display.
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Copyright ©, 2000. Lee R. Clark. All Rights Reserved.
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Last modified 2000-10-27.