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By chaneengelbrecht Mar 03, 2013 766 Words
Stereotypes in schools is a NO-go!

In a recent study in South Africa (Racial Stereotypes, Stigma and Trust in Post-Apartheid South Africa Justine Burns_ August 18, 2005), it was made clear that there are still textbooks and prescribed learner books in our schools which contain racism, sexism, and classism as a form of stereotyping.

We can define different stereotypes as follows: (According to (

Racism: “The believe that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others”

Sexism: “A sexist system is any system in which people’s life decisions are unnecessarily preordained on the basis of perceived biological sex”

Classism: “is the differential treatment based on social class or perceived social class”

Now that we are familiar with these terms and we are aware of the different stereotypes used in our learners textbooks, let us talk about the influence this has on the learners’ social attitudes.

South-Africa became a Democracy in 1994 and since then members of society were seen as equals. There is no more race discrimination nor any gender discrimination. Or so it should be. But alas from grade 1 to 12 most textbooks and prescribed learner material still contain racial and gender discrimination stereotypes.

For example you may find in a storybook read to grade 1 learner that the main character is a black boy named Tinky. He is portrayed as a very strong boy coming from the Ghetto (portrayed as violent) where he lives with his mother and younger sister. They are very poor so his mom needs to work two jobs to keep head above water. She works from 6 in the morning till 9 at night. Tinky must take care of his sister so he cannot perform in school and he can’t take part in after school activities.

When keep in mind that grade 1 learners read the book with their teacher, not all the learners in the class is black, so white learners can’t relate to the main character and this makes them feel unimportant and left behind. Secondly the black learners in the class are all from a very wealthy background and now they are portrayed as poor, violent, academically weak, unable to take part in sport. Which in this case is just the opposite with the effect of that they feel inferior and of lesser worth.

The learners are all affected negatively in their social life due to this. They are portrayed to be something they are not because of stereotypes.

Stereotyping may be decreased when the individual is motivated to promote a positive self-image either to him or to others in a social setting. Positive feedback from a black person decreases stereotypic sentence compellation while negative feedback from a black person increases it.

The educator’s role is to encourage each learner to participate in activities they want to do and to give guidance and support where needed. They should build a positive self-image and build the basis of mutual respect amongst the learners. The impact of stereotyping on literacy and the learners love to read will be strong, because once a learner read something that makes him feel or react negatively, they will start developing negative feelings towards reading itself. This will have a negative influence on literacy in our country and soon we will have a generation that is unwilling to read.

When a teacher chooses a book to read to her learners there are a few key aspects that she has to keep in mind. The following might be helpful to her. The learners should be able to relate to characters. Therefore choose a book were the main character is the same age as the learners in the group. The same gender, ethnicity or one who is facing a familiar situation is preferably. The learners want characters that they can sympathize with, cheer on, get frustrated with, worry alongside with, love and hate. The characters give emotion to the story, leaving their footprints in our memories.

The existence of implicit stereotypes is supported by a variety of articles in psychological literature. Adults and even children may hold implicit stereotypes of social categories in which they belong. Without intention or even awareness, implicit stereotypes affect human behavior and judgements.

This has wide-ranging implications for society from discrimination to personal career choices and understanding others in everyday social interactions.

C. Engelbrecht


• [pic]Forms of Stereotyping

• [pic]How to Stop Stereotypes

• Teaching Book Club


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