The implications of the findings of the HSRC study on sexist and racist stereotypes in school textbooks for teachers in the classroom.
“Politicians are seen as cheaters, liars, and ear bugs and they have no compassion for regular citizens”, “People with tattoos are seen as rebellious , irresponsible, unintelligent and uncivilized “, “That girl who has bleach blonde hair and bright red lipstick is such a Barbie, she must not be very clever”, “Look at that guy chatting to that girl, we all know exactly what is on his mind”, “Ugh these old people always walk so slowly!”, “It must be a women, only women don’t know how to drive” – All of these judgements are stereotypes within society, they are discriminatory towards groups of people that are inaccurate. In today’s society stereotypes are becoming more and more common; they are found everywhere and unfortunately it is becoming more and more “socially acceptable” to “judge” another person – even though it is completely inaccurate and wrong to do so.
Stereotyping is an oversimplified, usually judgmental attitude people hold towards others outside of their own familiarity. It is usually a result of partial or warped information accepted as fact without question. It is merely a widely held idea that an individual is a member of a certain group based on their characteristics. Due to the practice of overgeneralization within social perception, stereotyping leads to a vast deal of inaccuracy in social perception.
Sex, race, age, sexual orientation, religion and physical ability are various groupings which exist in stereotyping. The most major and controversial forms are sex and race. Racism is defined as opinions, practices and actions which reflect the views that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called ‘races’ and that members of a certain race share certain qualities or characteristics which make that group as a whole inferior or superior, less desirable or more desirable. The exact definition or racism is debateable because there is little intellectual knowledge about the meaning of the notion “race”, and because there is also little knowledge about what does and doesn’t constitute discrimination. An example of a racism judgement would be “All Asians are smart”, “All African people are dangerous”, “That white person is such a Dutchman” and “All Indians eat curry”.
Sexism is preconception or discrimination based on a person’s gender. Sexist attitudes may branch from traditional stereotypes of gender roles and may include the belief that a person of one sex is essentially superior to a person of the other sex. An example of a sexism judgement would be “A man says to a women, that her place belongs in the kitchen”, “All women are meant to cook, clean and wait on their husbands every need”, “While a women walks down the street she gets ‘cat-called’ from the man across the way”, “Women aren’t meant to be in high-end jobs as that is for a man”.
Classism is differential treatment based on social class or supposed social class. It is the cruelty of subordinate class groups to benefit and strengthen the dominant class groups. Classism is the obligation of characteristics of worth and ability based on social class. An example of classism would be “a low class person goes to work at a magazine publishing office because he/she is a very good writer, but gets all the bad jobs just because she is not high class” like the rest of the employees there. Even though everyone at the job knows that she is the best person for the job”.1
“In some school textbooks the families would never be black, and if they were, they would be poor. Where there is black representation, the dominant black character would most probably be male “with the social world clearly revolving around them”.
These are the findings revealed in a recent study by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) called ‘Textbooks for diverse...
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