Prejudice is a very popular topic in the news and on the internet. The negative and hostile feelings toward people of the Muslim religion, the hatefulness people are expressing about police officers, the negativity towards the Syrian refugees, and even the frustration people express over the reactions and prejudices being expressed are prominent in social and broadcast media. People are using social media to either support their stereotypes and discrimination, or to attempt to disprove those who hold those prejudices. Unfortunately, those who are attempting to disprove are often doing so by showing articles, numbers, images, or videos that also have a bias, just an opposing one. It seems that most of the media “chooses sides” in either supporting the stereotypes and encouraging the negative behavior and feelings toward the groups or attempting to portray the group in only positives and vilify those who have those stereotypes. It has become a vicious cycle of blame and hatred.
I have recently become enthralled with the jigsaw classroom. The jigsaw classroom struck a chord for me because I am a teacher who works in a very diverse school. Our school has a policy of using cooperative learning structures. These structures create the jigsaw classroom environment. For more information on the jigsaw classroom, you can go to: https://www.jigsaw.org/. So, the next question would be as to whether or not something similar to the jigsaw classroom could be implemented using the internet. The difficult situation arises when attempting to use the internet to create mutual interdependence. Unfortunately, the internet allows a lot of independence and lack of accountability towards fellow members of various groups. The other situation arises when creating a common goal. There is often equal status online, so that would not be a difficult achievement, although some like to try and create a status like being a moderator or leader.
As the world continues to turn more toward technology, so have the educational systems. Although many people take online courses, they aren’t forced to interact much with others within the classes they take. By creating 2-3 jigsaw type assignments throughout the class, with the last possibly requiring the use of a Blackboard collaborative learning application in which they use video, this may help to create opportunities for people to overcome prejudices. It would have to be done for every class in order to create multiple opportunities to interact with people. In an effort to prevent stereotypes based on names, the group member would need to be assigned anonymous tags. The all interactions prior to the video conference should be geared to create communication, a common goal, equal status, and mutual interdependence. By preventing personal information to be shared and only the quality of work presented by each person, it will allow each person to develop opinions about each person based on their ability as a person and not a social, religious, or other group. By requiring this in all classes, this would create repeated exposure to prevent people from being considered to be “exceptions” to the rule.