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Students Ask Teachers To Help Squelch Stereotypes

Overview

According to PsychologyToday.com, “Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

In the article “Clayton Students Ask Their Teachers To Help Squelch Stereotypes at School“, microaggression is the main topic of discussion. Students at Wydown Middle School deal with racial stereotypes from classmates and stereotypes influenced assumptions from teachers. Student Tyler Gant commented that just because he was black, tall, and wore a hood that it didn’t mean he was up to no good. Students at Wydman Middle School have developed their own equity training to work with their teachers to recognize and stop microaggression in their classes.

This topic is important to consider in our contemporary social climate. It is a topic that should be taken seriously in our national parks so that we can provide the most respectful and positive experiences for visitors and student groups.

Additional Resources

Watch a TED talk on microaggression.

Reflection

After you have read the article and watched the video, identify how you can use this information about microaggression to improve interactions with park guests and student groups at your park.

Citation

Taketa, Kristen. “Clayton Students Ask Their Teachers to Help Squelch Stereotypes at School”. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 17 June 2018.

Write a Review

  1. These articles and video are definitely worth the read/watch. They bring attention to biases and the little everyday things we say and do that invalidate people in one way or another. As an educator I think it’s important to be mindful of the biases we have or could be perpetuating and to also make sure we are creating a welcoming environment for students and/or visitors.

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  2. This would be a great resource to add to any self-awareness and understanding bias training. Microaggressions seems to fit right in with implicit bias. I like how the TED talk highlights how someone can do this to themselves; which really drives the point of the phenomenon’s sometimes unconscious nature.

    In relation to NPS, I really hope more rangers take notice of these concepts considering the demographic makeup of the agency paired with the new Directors Order 16E anti- harassment and discrimination regulations.

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  3. Multiple responses to this, starting with two different personal experiences. I have a spatial cognitive learning disability, or perhaps am differently abled rather than disabled. I score very high in measures of verbal/linguistic intelligence but scattered, including some borderline scores, on measures of spatial cognition, which includes the ability to orient myself in space, to organize time and tasks, to do math, and many of what we call social skills. We can do some things extremely well, but find some things that most people do easily to be more difficult. We are often clumsy, socially awkward, messy and disorganized. We are often called “underachievers” or just plain weird. I was not diagnosed with this syndrome until I was in my late 30’s. Reason for bringing this up: I have experienced a significant amount of microaggressions around these issues, and that standard response to my response: “Can’t you take a joke? Hey, I didn’t mean anything. Stop overreacting.” And I do know very well the experience of microaggressing myself as well. I know well how such things cut off any possibility of conversation, growth and interaction on all sides. And I am tired of having to constantly explain or justify myself.
    The other side is, I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s, a time when open and oppressive stereotypes, racist, sexist, generally offensive jokes, attitudes, and behavior were very much part of the common culture, even more so than today. I know I imbibed that culture, and that, much as I try to overcome it, it remains a part of me. So I know that I am guilty of microaggressions as well, especially as I try to navigate what is to me the shifting terrain of identity and gender. Melanie Lofgren’s concept of “knowing” (I might use the term, “empathy”) comes in here, as well as the various tools for discovering our own biases. And most important, recognizing that our judgments of others, including our evaluations of their work, are often an extension of our particular limited horizons rather than a helpful sharing. The question I am still left with is one of balance. I know I get tired of so often having to justify and explain myself. I know people of color and LGBTQ people, who face far more serious aggressions than I, get tired of having to constantly justify, explain, educate. So, yes, we need diversity, we need openness, we need education to grow. But how do we avoid making that a burden that burns out the people who are most likely the victims of continuous microaggression? Constant attention to ourselves?

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