31
Oct 16

Education

 

We have preexisting thoughts as to what our abilities are and how we are able to perform in this society. In education, our minds are shoved into an oppressive framework meant for only those who reflect the appearance and experiences of the leaders in academia. People of color, children of color, are told from a young age that they are lazy, stupid, ignorant, criminal minded, uneducated as a whole, prone to violence and criticized for any achievements they make. For example, when a student gets accepted into a university with competitive entrance, all people of color are assumed to have been accepted not due to their academic abilities, but due to affirmative action. I find it funny that white women benefit more than anyone else from affirmative action, but people of color are always the targets of derision when discussing affirmative action.

These criticisms of the character and abilities of people of color start in preschool and elementary school, and then continue into higher education. These stereotypes contribute to the formation of their academic self-concept—the feelings, attitudes, and perceptions students hold about their academic ability (Schneider, 2012). People of color are stereotyped viciously in the U.S. and other places around the world when it comes to academic achievement and how they can contribute to the betterment of society. These stereotypes contribute to Black and Latinx students not only being incorrectly categorized as having a learning disability, but also to them being disciplined 3 times more often and harshly than white counterparts for the same infractions (CRDC). When this happens in pre-K and elementary, children may associate education with negativity, and may internalize the discipline by adopting the belief they are “bad”. These stereotypes may also contribute to the self-fulfilling prophecy phenomena which happens when a person is bombarded by views, forced into a box so much they become exactly what was expected, but not who they are.

Some schools are fighting against these stereotypes by starting programs as mentioned in the text book, and others are choosing to use different types of discipline that may actually encourage students to be better. One school in Baltimore called Robert W. Coleman elementary utilizes meditation practices in place of detentions and suspensions and added a fifteen minute yoga session to the start of each day (CBS News 2016). They practice “mindfulness exercises and yoga” in order to take the students away from the situation and encourage self reflection (Gaines, 2016). The school has found by implementing mindfulness rather than punishment, the student’s grades have gone up by 10%, and there have been zero suspensions since the start of the intervention. Another school, Visitacion Valley School in San Francisco, which is majority Latinx and Hispanic, started having their students sit for two times a day in meditative silence for only a few minutes during the day. They call it “Quiet Time” and since its implementation, there have been 79% reduced suspensions (NBC, 2014).

For those students who never had a proper intervention, they went on to high school and university without the proper coping mechanisms to face the inherent racial bias in academia. The picture below is just one of the hundreds of screenshots related to a case where a Latina grad student was assumed to have plagiarized for utilizing a healthy vocabulary in her papers. The professor circled the word hence,  indicated the student should cite the source of this word by saying “This is not your word”, and accused her of plagiarism while shaming her in front of her class (Martinez, 2016).

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“My last name and appearance immediately instills a set of biases before I have the chance to open my mouth. These stereotypes and generalizations forced on marginalized communities are at times debilitating and painful. As a minority in my classrooms, I continuously hear my peers and professors use language that both covertly and overtly oppresses the communities I belong to. Therefore, I do not always feel safe when I attempt to advocate for my people in these spaces. In the journey to become a successful student, I swallow the “momentary” pain from these interactions and set my emotions aside so I can function productively as a student.” -Tiffany Martinez

This is the experience of millions of students of color around the country, and is labeled in psychology as stereotype threat—the anxiety students feel when they are faced with expectations consistent with the stereotypes associated with the group they belong to (Schneider 2012).  An example of this is when a woman of color is being treated badly, and the stereotypes about her race are that she is “angry and loud”. If she reacts to the bad treatment in any way, it will be dismissed as her just being a “stereotypical [insert race here]”. In academia this is apparent from teachers in response to students. There are notions about a Latina and a Black student (as shown above in the picture), that affect the way a teacher perceives the work done. They may underestimate the skills of the students based on skin tone, name or background and that discourages students from being successful (Schneider, 2012). There are ways to combat the negative teacher expectations through training (Schneider 2012). There is still a long way to go in the realm of racial biases including in academia.

 

 

References

CDC. http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/data.html

Cynthia McFadden, Tim Sandler and Elisha Fieldstadt. (2014). SanFrancisco Schools Transformed by the Power of Meditation. NBC News. Retrieved at: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/san-francisco-schools-transformed-power-meditation-n276301

Gaines, James. (2016) This School Replaced Detention with Meditation. Upworthy. Retrieved from: http://www.upworthy.com/this-school-replaced-detention-with-meditation-the-results-are-stunning

Martinez, Tiffany. (2016). Academia, Love Me Back. Viva Tiffany At WordPress. Retrieved from: https://vivatiffany.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/academia-love-me-back/

Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012) Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


31
Oct 16

Comparing Creative and Academic Challenges

Our environment and the quality of education we receive can shape our minds, our voice and our behaviors. Not every lesson or teaching method is tailored to every student’s needs and that can cause unnecessary frustration. So many students develop a poor academic self-concept because they cannot grasp the material in the way it is being presented to them and that affects their performance (Schneider et al., 2013).

The challenges we face both in a classroom setting and out in the real world can influence tour achievements (Hoffmann et al., 2015). The article, Intended Persistence: Comparing Academic and Creative Challenges in High School, studies how students approach and tackle said challenges. Researchers used 190 high school students, 73 males and 117 women, with an average age of 16 to complete an online survey. The participants were asked a series of questions that related to both creative and academic challenges they have recently experienced (2015). Data collected from these surveys showed that motivation and persistence were correlated to interest and that the students reported more interest in creative challenges.

In my opinion, the participants were more interested in creative challenges because those results are open to interpretation. While there are still right and wrong answers to be found in creative classes, like art and music, most of your findings can be your desires. You can create your own designs, draw up your own sheet music and not be afraid to think outside of the box.

Cao, P., Meister, S. & Klante, O. Mark Rev St. Gallen (2014) 31: 77. doi:10.1365/s11621-014-0427-y

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412976381


31
Oct 16

School Violence: Bullying and Shootings at Columbine

Sociological research about school shootings indicate that in the majority of the cases, the violence is in retaliation to bullying and harassment perpetrated by the school elite on the school outcasts (Larkin, 2012). This blog will look at adolescent bullying and violence, and then conclude with interventions that might help prevent devastating incidents of school shootings like Columbine.

If we take the case of Columbine, Larkin (2007) observes that the school was pervaded by a sort of “cult of the athlete,” revolving in particular around football, such that athletes or “jocks” ruled the school and perpetrated violence and harassment upon outcasts. This bullying was tolerated and even encouraged by peer bystanders, who claimed that the outcasts were morally disgusting to the entire school.

Bullying increases beginning in middle school (Pellegrini, 2001), when peer relationships become unstable, such as during the transition from middle school to high school. Social hierarchies are in the midst of being established, and given the long-standing tradition of athleticism and physical domination as being signs of the elite, hierarchies are established through violence and intimidation, especially in the case of male students. Adolescent peer groups can be grouped into the jock elite, burnout outcasts, and the rest in the middle (Larkin, 2007). In Columbine, the jock elite was composed of members of the Columbine Sports Association, whereas the burnouts were called “goths,” some of whom went around in trench coats and called themselves “The Trenchcoat Mafia.”

Milner (2006) observes that peer groups can be unforgiving, in that though everyone knows who falls in what peer group, the wrong word or association can lead to an immediate fall in status. The formation of peer groups in the beginning of junior high or high school is therefore a conflict-fueled process, as social status begins in flux and then slowly crystalizes.

Bullying exists in an environment where it leads to rewards from peers and tolerance from school authorities. Brown and Merritt (2002) observed that in Columbine, the teachers would look upon bullying as “boys will be boys” and then look the other way. Bullies establish their higher social status and power by intimidating their victims, and thus are rewarded by rises in self-esteem and social competence.

What does bullying have to do with school shootings? Everything. Of 38 school shootings analyzed by Larkin (2009), at least 20 were in retaliation for bullying. Bullying and harassment ranged from small cruelties to near torture, with incidents of being burned by cigarette lighters. Prevention of school shootings therefore naturally ties into prevention of bullying.

Suggestions for prevention of school shootings have been compiled by Bondü and Scheithauer (2009). At the school level, the researchers recommend the development of a positive school climate, with a zero tolerance policy towards bullying, prevention and response procedures for bullying, and an increase in the number of mental health service providers like school counselors on campus. At the individual level, the researchers recommend concentrating on developing social and emotional competencies, limiting violent media consumption, implementing conflict resolution/mediation programs, and fostering social integration to prevent social exclusion.

References:

Böckler, N. (2013;2012;). School shootings: International research, case studies, and concepts for prevention (1. Aufl.;1; ed.). New York: Springer.

Bondü, R., & Scheithauer, H. (2009). Aktuelle Ansätze zur Prävention von School Shootings in Deutschland. Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychiatrie, 58, 685–701.

Brown, B., & Merritt, R. (2002). No easy answers: The truth behind death at Columbine. New York: Lantern.

Larkin, R. W. (2007). Comprehending columbine. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Larkin, R. W. (2009). The Columbine legacy: Rampage shootings as political acts. The American Behavioral Scientist, 52(9), 1309–1326.

Milner, M., Jr. (2006). Freaks, geeks, and cool kids: American teenagers, schools, and the culture of consumption. New York: Routledge.

Pellegrini, A. D. (2001). The roles of dominance and bullying in the development of early heterosexual relationships. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 2(2/3), 63–73.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


30
Oct 16

Youth Violence: A Learned Behavior

News reports on school violence and bullying seem to occur on a regular basis and involve children and adolescents of varying ages. Many question why violence is becoming such an increasing issue. There is a seemingly endless availability of violent material accessible to youths on the internet, television, and video games. According to the CDC, some of the most common forms of youth violence occur in the form of bullying, fighting, electronic aggression, use of weapons, and gang violence (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2016). It would seem we’re teaching America’s youth that violence is both acceptable and normal.

Albert Bandura’s social cognitive learning theory posits people learn through the observation of others’ behaviors, and the outcomes of those behaviors may be desirable or undesirable (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Social learning may also be the result of one’s own behaviors. If a child solves a problem through aggressive behavior they learn that this behavior is beneficial and are likely to continue its use. It is not uncommon for this type of social learning to occur early on in development (Syracuse University School of Education [Syracuse University], 2016).

It should be noted that not all children who are exposed to violent behavior will subsequently behave violently; however, numerous studies have concluded various risk factors exist. Some commonly reported individual risk factors are children with learning disorders or deficits in social cognitive information processing, having a lower IQ, and exposure to family conflict and violence (CDC, 2016). Family risk factors include lower socioeconomic status, low parental involvement and supervision, authoritarian childrearing styles, and parental criminal history or drug use (CDC, 2016). Other risk factors include social rejection, little to no community participation, association with delinquent peers, and subpar academic performance (CDC, 2016).

What can parents, communities and educators do to ensure we are raising well-adjusted children who understand resorting to violence is not an appropriate response? It has been suggested that schools and communities focus on teaching children positive social skills, conflict resolution, emotional self-control, teamwork, and work to build self-esteem (CDC, 2016). Parents may also focus on these same behaviors at home, while ensuring they spend more time with children and adopt a more authoritative parenting style (CDC, 2016). It is also critical that schools take a zero tolerance policy toward violence and enforce the policy.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). What is School Violence? Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Syracuse University School of Education. (2016). Understanding the Causes of Youth Violence. Retrieved from http://soe.syr.edu/academic/counseling_and_human_services/modules/Violence_Prevention/understanding_the_causes_youth_violence.aspx


30
Oct 16

Education the Tool

What an amazing social psychology experiment done by Jane Elliott, who at the time was a teacher in a small rural town in Iowa. Iowa itself reminds me of the musical The Music Man; in which the main character tries to sale band uniforms and instruments under the idea that he is a band leader. However he is not a real band leader, he uses the people from Iowa because they were naïve enough to believe his con. With this is mind, I think Jane Elliott knew her 3rd grade students and possibly their parents were naïve to what it was like to be discriminated against, based off of a characteristic.

I was really surprise to see how long Jane Elliott was teaching about inequality. I saw a video of her teaching college students, in which she posed a simple question to the white students in her class. She asked who was willing to trade their skin with the skin of a fellow black student. She went farther indicating that the student wouldn’t trade their skin because they are aware of the unfair treatment of black people in general.  Everything she had done makes me think about intergroup attitudes about discrimination. However I wonder if education is really the key to solving intergroup attitudes about discrimination? Or does being educated about discrimination serve a weapon to continue making sure the social dominate group stay the social dominate group?

Studies on racial integration and education reveal that racial attitude among whites’ have changed larger due to education (Wodtke 2012). According to the enlightenment theory, intergroup attitude that are negative develop from narrow-minded, poorly informed, undemocratic world. Under this theory advance education provide people with information about historical, social and economic facts that allow them to combat discrimination (Wodke 2012). Unlike the enlightenment theory, the ideological refinement perspective argues that an advanced education cannot be seen as an enlightening agent because it does not liberate individuals from their group interests (Wodtke 2012). However, education does provide the tools needed for the dominant group to promote their interests more astutely (Wodtke 2012).

Looking back on the work done by Jane Elliot after having this new knowledge I wonder how much of a difference is it really making. Are we all just as naïve as the people from the musical The Music Man thinking that education is the band leader when it’s not.

 

Reference

Wodtke, G. (2012). The Impact of Education on Intergroup Attitudes: A Multiracial Analysis. Social Psychology Quarterly, 75(1), 80-106. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/stable/23120530

https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1802487/modules/items/21234183

Frontline. (1985). A Class Divided. Retrieved online at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/ (Links to an external site.)


30
Oct 16

Social Life and Academic Success

Positive social, behavioral and emotional experiences are necessary for students to excel academically. Simply playing with peers help children to be more socially skilled and do better in school. Doing well in school is directly connected with one’s relations with peers. According to a research, early poor social adjustment leads to future academic difficulties, and eventual failure in school (Bullock, 1992; Ladd et al., 1988; Véronneau et al., 2010).

Relations with peers or classmates are different topics for us online students, because we don’t literally meet the people or the professor in our class. I have had several classes where I don’t even know one person from that class. Some classes require us to work on two or three projects throughout the semester with a group, which allows us to connect with our teammates on a different level than the rest of the class. Even that short and limited connection with my teammates motivate me a bunch and since online classes are hard to focus on in the first place, that motivation is very welcome. I do my assignments more carefully knowing my teammates will be reviewing them before the professor. I log in very early in the week in order to not stall my teammates off. These are not only helping me academically, but also helping me in a professional way. These social interactions are wanted in a professional work environment.

Parents should keep in mind that doing homework is as important as creating the right environment for social interactions with peers. A well-balanced social life indeed is going to bring a higher self-esteem and hence academic success.

 

Bullock, J. R. (1992). Children without friends: Who are they and how can teachers help? Childhood Education, 69, 92–96.

Ladd, G. W., Price, J. M., & Hart, C. H. (1988). Predicting preschoolers’ peer status from their playground behaviors and peer contacts. Child Development, 59, 986–992.

Véronneau, M.-H., Vitaro, F., Brendgen, M., Dishion, T. J., & Tremblay, R. E. (2010). Transactional analysis of the reciprocal links between peer experiences and academic achievement from middle childhood to early adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 46, 773–790.


30
Oct 16

Social Life vs. Education

Quite often, us as young adults believe that social life is more important than our education, especially while we are in college. I must say I made my fair share of mistakes in college, deciding to party knowing that I have to be up at 7:00 am for class the next day.

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An article written in The Guardian discusses how students say social life is more important than studying. Six out of ten students believed that their hobbies wee more important than getting good grades and two thirds of students said that having a good time with friends was as important if not more so than getting good grades. Exam aid questioned over 2,000 middle aged adults in England, most of which were studying for AS and A-levels. Seven out of ten individuals said they found their coursework harder than they anticipated, and 43% admitted to feeling less confident about getting good grades than before they started. Seven out of ten of these middle-aged adults said their social life was equally or more important than their work, but 17% of boys said a good social life was more important in comparison with 10% of girls. This article states that individuals with hard coursework believe that their social life is more important.

My belief is that if you are able to balance your social life and your school work than it’s okay to party as much as you study. There are tons of factors that come in the way when you’re in college – paid work, internships, externships, personal life and then there is school and social life. What many students should understand is what is more important long term? Will drinking and partying land you a job in the future? We don’t look at it that way until we are faced with real world consequences.

Social life more important than study, say students (2003, November 13). The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/education/2003/nov/13/alevels2003.alevels


30
Oct 16

Boredom Encourages Imagination

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Education didn’t become important to me until I became a parent. As a parent there is a constant worry about whether or not your child is actively engaged in different educational activities. In our day to day lives we don’t always have time to sit down and work one on one with our children. So what ends up happening is we turn to television or video games to keep them distracted. Some may argue that some television shows and video games can be educational but how much is too much? I am guilty of telling my kids to go to their room and watch TV so I can get some homework done. This often leaves me feeling like a bad parent. I recently read an article about how we should let our children be bored. Of course, I was intrigued.

In today’s society, we are experiencing a youth of overscheduled kids. Between school, extracurricular classes and activities, sports and clubs, children are often left with no unstructured time during the day (MacQuarrie, 2014). Edgar (2014) says, that while these activities provide children with a variety of benefits, too many distractions can lead to generations of manic and anxiety-ridden individuals. Unstructured time gives them an opportunity to find creative ways to occupy their time. The most important thing during this unstructured time is to turn the electronics off, this means no TV, video games, phones, or ipads. This allows are children time to daydream. Daydreaming allows children to reflect, observe, and be introspective (MacQuarrie, 2014). In fact according to MacQuarrie (2014), “daydreaming is crucial to our mental health, to our relationships, and to our emotional and moral development. It promotes the skill parents and teachers care so much about which is the capacity to focus on the world outside our heads.”

boredomcultivates

Edgar (2014) believes that downtime gives children space and time which allows them to develop independence, take risks and helps them make sense of what they have learned or experienced. By giving children time to be bored we are providing them important life skills which are learned through the stimulus to be inventive, resourceful and self-reliant. Without these important skills they risk being left behind educationally. However, too much boredom is not a good thing. So parents need to find a good balance between good and bad. And of course you must supervise your kids. The key is to provide your children with a supervised balanced schedule that includes engaging activities as well as unstructured time (MacQuarrie, 2014).

MacQuarrie (2014) suggest four ways to help kids be bored:

1. Unplug.

2.Provide creative materials.

3. Encourage improvisation.

4. Provide time and space for quiet.

After I read about the importance of boredom on development I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. So I decided to do a little experiment with my own children. My children begged me to play video games and instead of giving in I told them to go play on their own. I watched as they ran around the house pretending to be characters from star wars. Then they went outside and collected acorns from our backyard. I’m not sure why but my oldest is obsessed with acorns. The good news is that we now have enough acorns to feed a family of squirrels for the entire winter. And well I’m not sure if this time was beneficially, I didn’t feel the guiltiness from letting them stare at a screen for hours. I also found enjoyment in watching them imagine and explore together.

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This illustration pretty much sums up the results of my experiment!!

References

Edgar, J. (2014). The Telegraph. Retrieved from Give your child time to be bored, pushy parents are urged: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10556523/Give-your-child-time-to-be-bored-pushy-parents-are-urged.html

MacQuarrie, A. (2014). Learning Lift Off. Retrieved from Why Boredom is Good for Kids: http://www.learningliftoff.com/boredom-is-good-for-kids/#.WBTl9jCQKtU

 


30
Oct 16

Fun Fact: Being social isn’t always the key to success.

You’re welcome to start a drinking game for each post I make in which I tell you the textbook’s incorrect, because here’s number two. Today we’re talking about the influence of a student’s peers on his or her grades and educational achievement.

So what am I nitpicking this time?

Children who have poor peer relationships, where they are either actively rejected or ignored by their peers, fail to develop competency in many areas of their lives, including academic achievement (Schneider et al., p.207).

This is practically the opening statement to Chapter 9’s subsection on the academic effects of peer interaction, and while it isn’t quite as blatant an offense as my last post pointed out, it’s still definitely worth mentioning.

It would be one thing to make the statement that positive interaction with peers is correlated strongly with academic achievement, or to say that social rejection can lead to academic failure. In fact, the text is welcome to cite a number of studies supporting this evidence – which it has. One in particular mentions that children fall into three categories:

(a) Children who demonstrated positive play behaviors also engaged in classroom learning activities, (b) children who hovered around play activities but did not interact with others very much were inattentive in class and less motivated to learn, and (c) children who were disruptive in their peer play also displayed conduct problems during classroom activities. (Schneider et al., p.207)

So there you have it, folks. You’re a social butterfly, you’re awkward and inattentive, or you’re a troublemaker. If you could please queue up in one of these three lines, that would be great.

…But it’s not quite that easy. In each class of 25 to 30 kids, there will be at least five kids who fall blatantly outside of these categories. (Note that this is a rough estimate based on my experiences in twelve years of formalized education.) You’ll have the social butterfly who can’t get good grades to save his life. You’ll have the abrasive kid who rejects everyone but aces his tests – or more commonly, the overlooked loner who maintains the highest GPA in the class. This is prevalent enough that the media has concocted stereotypes on the topic – dumb jock, loser nerd, etc.

What’s actually going on here?

I can’t even begin to fathom why the studies produced such a black-and-white outlook on this particular correlation. It’s possible that this could have been a product of the era; the studies cited by our text included two from 1988 and 1992, both older than I am. Two more were from the early 2000’s, which by now is a full fifteen years ago, hard as it is to believe. All of this is to say that it’s entirely possible that as society has developed over these last three decades, the interplay between social interaction and academic achievement may have as well. On the other hand, 80’s movies were pretty heavy-handed with the “unpopular nerd & dumb jock” stereotypes, so this doesn’t hold up too well under scrutiny.

My next thought was that it could be a product of the location in which these studies took place. I asked my roommate, an 80’s movie buff, about her take on this issue as seen through the lens of movies of the era (which is how I reached the above conclusion), and she cited location as the biggest influence coming to mind. In my school, social success and educational aptitude were almost entirely divorced concepts, but in hers, all of the popular kids were also in ASB and taking AP classes.

This tied back to the demographic in the area in which she grew up: The kids there were from affluent families with tangible social standing, and were being pressured to excel in all areas of their lives (social, academic, extracurricular). Even the delinquents were raised in an atmosphere in which intelligence and academic achievement was desirable above all other traits, and it showed. In contrast, the retirement town in which I went to middle and high school was one where the only adults (which is to say, the only parents) were either taking care of an elderly relative or were townies who never aspired to leave. This lacking level of ambition carried over pretty plainly in my peers.

All of this is to say that the location of the school in which the cited studies took place could easily be the key to unlocking this mystery. If the area was affluent like my roommate’s hometown, the studies may very well have been correct, but they lack external validity to generalize the results outside of other similar social demographics.

This seems like something the textbook might have taken into account, seeing as it taught us the concept of external validity in the first place. I feel like, in the name of taking a solid stance one way or another on the matter, our text has fallen prey to confirmation bias, in which it chooses to use as evidence studies which support the stance it’s choosing to take and similarly neglects to notice the studies which don’t.

What isn’t the textbook telling us?

There are quite a few facets of this particular social-educational interaction that the text doesn’t necessarily touch on.

  • Individuals who are “popular”/have good social skills can do very poorly in academic pursuits for a number of reasons:
    • Peer-pressure affecting the deliberate choice to succeed. This was demonstrated, for example, in a study on 11th grade students testing their willingness to sign up for an SAT prep course depending on whether or not their participation was visible to their peers. “We find that students respond dramatically to whether their decision to sign up for a complementary version of a valuable, online SAT prep course is visible to their peers, and in a way that depends greatly on who their peers are at the time they are offered the course. We also find evidence suggesting that the results are specifically driven by concerns over popularity and the possibility of facing social sanctions or gaining social approval depending on effort or investments, or at least, a desire to conform to prevailing social norms among peers in the classroom. (Bursztyn & Jensen, 2014)”

    • Prioritizing social obligations over academic ones. Speaking from experience, many adolescents are faced with a choice between peers and school and choose their peers. In class, they’d rather talk to their friends and make new social connections than pay attention to the teacher, and after school they’re found socializing rather than studying or completing their homework. This tends to come out stronger in high school, and could easily be a product of how much more difficult it is to be popular than to be good in school these days. This could tie in to the justification of effort effect (Schneider et al., 2014): Popularity would seem like the better of the two based solely on how difficult it is to obtain in comparison.

 

  • Individuals who are outcasts on a social level can do very well in academic pursuits for a number of reasons:
    • Self-motivated learning. Whether it’s a product of identified or integrated regulation or even genuinely an intrinsically-motivated desire, some students find motivation to succeed independent of the social pressures (positive or negative) coming from his or her peers. This it occurs in both social and less social individuals, but it’s much easier to notice in adolescents with fewer social skills, as academic achievement from a social butterfly tends to be taken for granted as “par for course”, despite all stereotypes to the contrary. It’s also more difficult to notice because both the self-motivated pressures and the peer pressures often point in the same direction, so it’s hard to discern one from the other.
    • Competition and defiance. While children on the receiving end of peer rejection or neglect often withdraw, human beings in general (especially at a young age) are primed to develop defense mechanisms to account for the environment they find themselves in, and defiance is often a child’s method of choice, built in from the age-old cry of “NO!” when a parent said it was time for bed (or time for basically anything else, really). If you can’t beat them, join them – but if you can’t join them, beat them. This is largely from personal experience, mine and that of a handful of people I know who shared my experiences. Essentially, we were unable to integrate socially, so we instead boosted our own self esteem in the wake of the blow delivered by our peers by becoming better than they were at any given thing, academics or sports or whatever we could come up with. Being “better than them” fortified us against being dragged down by them.
    • Failure to understand their status as outcast. This isn’t terribly common, since adolescents tend to pick up on social cues from their peers, but some – often those suffering from a mental issue which hinders understanding of social scenarios, such as those on the Autism spectrum. In this scenario, the lack of acceptance from peers may go entirely unnoticed as the student continues on as if he or she has plenty of friends but happens to not hang out with them often. In this case, academic achievement would theoretically not be affected in any way by the rejection or neglect.
    • Motivation from other social circles. For example, a social outcast who has a special rapport with his or her teachers – or has a particularly supportive family. In my case, I had no friends and a distinctly unpleasant relationship with most of my teachers throughout my grade school years, but my grandmother (who raised me) was both supportive and adamant that I succeed in school. She was my primary social connection, and she was the one who shaped my priorities aspirations, in lieu of positive social contact at school itself.

All in all, this is a broader and more varied issue than the textbook even begins to imply, and once again, the text has opted to be closed-minded for simplicity’s sake. Tune in next week for what hopefully isn’t a third argumentative post.

Crossing my fingers and signing out.

Bursztyn, L., & Jensen, R. (2014). How Does Peer Pressure Affect Educational Investments? doi:10.3386/w20714

Schneider, F.W., Grumman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012) Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


29
Oct 16

Education and the New Challange

“When the Obama administration directed public schools on Friday to accommodate transgender students by ensuring that they may use school bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice, the latest battle in the nation’s culture wars became even more contentious. Conservatives called the action an illegal overreach that will put children in danger. Advocates for transgender rights hailed it as a breakthrough for civil rights.” (“How High School Students See the Transgender Bathroom Issue”, 2016)

With all the issues that the schools face, they are now faced with a bigger issue than ever before: transgender rights. Attending a high school within the city of New York, discussing LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) was not an alien thing to do. My high school had a very openly gay community and the school had developed a LGBT support group which was popular and had many participants. However, this is not the opinion that is shared nationwide; nationwide everyone is going to have to face this topic.

Should boys be allowed into the girl’s room, if they identify themselves as a girl? Per the New York Times, high school students have begun to voice their opinions on this topic and they range from being exceptionally content about it to being very upset about it. These are the hard decisions that the Supreme Court is currently looking into. We have to consider how this change will impact education if it becomes federally mandated that schools cannot force students to use one bathroom or the other. Would staff have to be incident the restrooms (outside the stalls) at all times now to ensure that students are behaving in school. We do have to consider that if boys are allowed in the girl’s room and girls in the boys’ room, there would be kids who would try to take advantage of this policy, especially when it comes to high schools, would students try to take this opportunity to engage in sexual act ivies in the restrooms? This is a very hard topic to discuss and a lot of people are not comfortable with this topic, however, if the supreme court decides to pass this allow for this, this is a new challenge that the educational system has to accept and figure out how to manage.

1) I don’t think it is the federal government’s job to dictate what each school district does with its students. That is extreme government overreach, and it sets a bad precedent for the future. 2) I think that it is endangering females by opening the doors for any man who wants to enter locker rooms and restrooms where females are. I am not saying that transgender people will be the ones committing crimes; however, these laws and orders will allow any guy who wants to to enter these previously all-female spaces without being restricted by law. If schools want to provide a gender neutral restroom or space where transgender people can go, that is one thing, but eliminating any place where girls can go and have privacy from men is a very bad policy. — Grace Driggers, 17, South Carolina

1) I don’t think it is the federal government’s job to dictate what each school district does with its students. That is extreme government overreach, and it sets a bad precedent for the future.
2) I think that it is endangering females by opening the doors for any man who wants to enter locker rooms and restrooms where females are. I am not saying that transgender people will be the ones committing crimes; however, these laws and orders will allow any guy who wants to to enter these previously all-female spaces without being restricted by law. If schools want to provide a gender neutral restroom or space where transgender people can go, that is one thing, but eliminating any place where girls can go and have privacy from men is a very bad policy.
— Grace Driggers, 17, South Carolina

References

How High School Students See the Transgender Bathroom Issue. (2016). Retrieved October 29, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/19/us/high-school-students-transgender-bathroom.html


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