New Kid on the Block
Participants examine the meaning of and examples of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. They reflect on ways that stereotypes develop and have the potential to turn into discrimination.
The learner will:
- define and explain the connection between stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.
- state harmful outcomes of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.
- chart paper and markers
- self-stick notes
stereotype: an oversimplified opinion formed by associating people with a group; an idea that many people have about a thing or group and that may often be untrue or only partly true
prejudice: a judgment formed about a person or group without enough knowledge
discrimination: action or treatment based on prejudice, or a preconceived opinion
Do a think-pair-share activity in which they reflect on a time when they were either affected by stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, or a time in which they were the offender and treated someone insensitively. Give them a few minutes to think quietly and then have them pair up to discuss their experiences with a partner. Have each pair of students share insights from their discussions with the whole group.
Ask participants to reflect on a time when they felt like they didn’t belong or were in an unfamiliar setting: a new class, a new school, a new team, or a new neighborhood. Ask them to write their thoughts and feelings about that situation, including their fears and their concerns. Ask them to recall how it turned out.
It is easy to fall into stereotypical thinking because our brains naturally want to organize incoming information into predictable patterns and categories. This is a helpful way for our brain to organize bits of information so that we can make sense of our world. Although this is a natural behavior, stereotypes can be harmful when they cause us to form opinions that are based on generalizations and assumptions rather than accurate information.
When our stereotypes and generalizations (rather than accurate and complete information) allow us to form unfounded opinions about people, we are exhibiting prejudice. An example of prejudice is believing that boys with long hair are not to be trusted. Another example is girls who wear glasses are smart.
Discuss why prejudice is harmful. It often leads to unjust treatment and lost opportunities. It may cause hurt or angry feelings or lead to violent actions. It may prevent relationships or creative solutions from forming. Discuss how prejudice and misinformation can deprive people of their rights (prejudice and civil rights).
Label individual sheets of chart paper with some or all of the following categories: teenagers, elderly people, professional athletes, parents, young children, teachers, bankers, factory workers, and musicians. Ask participants to write on sticky notes common stereotypes they are aware of and stick them on the chart sheets. Allow five minutes for brainstorming, and then time to view the charts. Then engage them in reflection by using the following questions:
- What percentage of the stereotypes are absolutely true about the groups of people?
- How can these stereotypes lead to depriving people of their rights?
- What is the harm in a positively stated stereotype?
- Why is it important to treat each person with respect and be open to their uniqueness?
Directly teach that prejudice (opinion) is based on stereotypes (generalizations) and that acting on stereotypes and prejudice results in discrimination (unfair treatment). Since prejudice is formed easily, we must work hard to avoid pre-judging. Because our opinions affect how we behave, we must actively work to remain open and curious about people without judgment.
Youth make a plan to learn more about diverse people and ideas through a personal journey of learning and listening. They make an advocacy poster that encourages people to be actively aware of overcoming prejudice.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
Benchmark MS.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.