Across the US, K-12 public school teachers face significant psychological barriers to discussing issues of race and racism with their students, according to new research from a University of Massachusetts social psychologist.
Psychological and brain science professor Linda Tropp examines how teachers’ implicit racial bias and concerns about appearing racist can affect their intentions and confidence in their students to engage in race talk. The findings were recently published online by the journal social psychology of education,
“This research was done to try to understand what can sometimes get in the way of teachers’ best intentions in talking about race with their students,” says Tropp, who has jobs in schools. Have extensive experience doing and want to support teachers in engaging students. In conversations about race and other important and sensitive topics. “How do we prepare teachers to engage in these conversations? What we are hoping is that the findings of this research can be used to inform future professional development programs for teachers, so that they feel more prepared to ‘go there’ with their students.”
Analyzing data from two large surveys, each consisting of responses from more than 1,000 K-12 teachers, Tropp found that both the teachers’ implicit racial bias and their apparent fear of being perceived as racist independently contributed to their Contributed to lessening the intention to talk about race with students. These psychological barriers are still evident, even after the trope takes into account many other variables such as teachers’ years of experience, their demographic characteristics, the characteristics of the schools in which they teach and their own prior performance of diversity training. .
Recent teacher training and professional development programs have generally focused on educating teachers about implicit racial biases – that is, unconscious racial biases they may have and of which they may have limited awareness – Without adequately addressing teachers’ conscious concerns about how they may be seen, or how their comments may be interpreted, Tropp explains.
“It’s not just something unique to teachers, but something we all experience in our society, where people are very quick to judge what we say,” Tropp says. “It is understandable that we would worry about how what we say might be perceived or received by others.”
Tropp stresses that future training efforts need to consider how racial bias and conscious concerns about being viewed as racist can help teachers engage students in meaningful and productive conversations around race. may inhibit the desire to participate. Tropp’s paper states, “As we examine potential barriers to teacher engagement in race talk with students, we must also learn how to effectively support teachers to facilitate these discussions.” Go.”
In light of the current political and social debate about race-related topics in school curricula, Tropp says it is important for teachers to discuss race in the classroom so that students can see and hear what they see and hear outside the classroom. to help process it. She notes, “By providing opportunities for students to engage in meaningful discussions about race, teachers encourage them to respectful exchange of perspectives with others and full participation as engaged citizens in an increasingly multidimensional and diverse society.” can prepare for.”
material provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst, Note: Content can be edited for style and length.