This month’s selection, Young Gifted and Black: Promoting High Achievement Among African-American Students by Theresa Perry, Claude Steele, and Asa Hilliard III is a collection of three essays which emphasize three important ways to assure students’ success:
• good teaching,
• high expectations,
• and culturally relevant instruction
Steele’s essay in particular, “Stereotype Threat and African-American Student Achievement,” emphasizes the incredible impact of expectations on the individual. The author attempts to isolate the effect of what he calls “stereotype threat,” which is when someone does worse academically (or in life) than others of a similar ability level because of the stress of combatting a negative stereotype.
The fact that a smart, driven student might suffer in performance due to negative stereotypes about their race or ethnicity means that it is not enough to provide opportunities for employment and education to support these learners. Additionally, it is likewise false that educational attainment and intelligence are enough to ensure success. Steele asserts that when a Black student takes an English test, she is likely to perform significantly worse than a white student of the same intelligence and ability because of her anxiety to prove herself to not fit unfair academic expectations of people of her Race or Ethnicity.
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