Mar 19

Ask for “Angela”

In today’s world, we unfortunately hear about sexual assault and date-related violence occurring on a regular basis. Whether it’s in a small town bar or at a fraternity party on a large college campus, young women aged 18-24, as well as the LGBT community, have astronomically large odds of experiencing it at some point.

In order to combat the large threat to the community that date-related violence poses, cities are implementing a measure known as “Ask for Angela”. With the knowledge of the bystander effect in mind, city officials and law enforcement are aware of the difficulty that may arise should something occur in places heavily populated. Because of the bystander effect, the surrounding crowd may not feel inclined to respond should they hear or see something that may be concerning, due to the fact that others around them aren’t responding either. If the situation isn’t an obvious emergency, and there is some question to its severity, the chances of someone responding fall dramatically. This doesn’t leave much confidence in the minds of young adults, and people of all ages, who may fear being in such a situation.

“Ask for Angela” was developed in Arlington, VA based upon initiatives that started in cities across the United Kingdom (Norwood, 2019). The program is now live in approximately 22 bars and restaurants in the area and allows people who feel unsafe or threatened in their current situation to have an immediate resource of help on their side by simply “asking for Angela”. The program trains staff in these establishments to watch and listen for any woman or man who “asks for Angela”. Should someone ask for her, the staff members are trained to help this individual leave the establishment safely, and obtain a cab for them to get home (Norwood, 2019). This program is training staff throughout the city to respond efficiently instead of falling subject to the bystander effect.

Personally, I thought this was an incredibly effective method to combat the unfortunately common occurrence of situations like these. In wake of the #MeToo movement and the opening of conversations into this topic, I felt it was very relevant, needed, and most definitely instills confidence in the community. It’s almost a way to bring the community together, to target and fight these types of crimes together. It gives victims a sense of hope and a reason to feel less alone should they fall into a situation that would require assistance like this. It also allows people to subliminally ask for assistance without blatantly saying it. I thought this was important because there may be times in which a person doesn’t feel it is safe to bluntly ask for assistance. Ask for Angela is almost a disguised way to do so. This all said, I am hoping that initiatives such as this are put into play in cities across the country, because I truly believe it would make a huge difference.


Norwood, C. (2019). In #MeToo Era, Cities Train Bystanders to Intervene. Governing. Retrieved from https://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-arlington-ask-for-angela-sexual-assault-prevention.html

Mar 19

Stigmatization and Mental Illness

It is all but guaranteed that you know or love someone who has struggled or currently struggles with some type of mental illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (2015), 1 in 5 adults in the United States (that’s 43.8 million people) experience mental illness in a given year. That’s a lot of people. Despite being so prevalent in our society, people struggling with mental illness face intense levels of stigmatization that often prevent them from getting the help that they need and can have impacts on things from their career to what landlords will rent to them.

Stigmatization is what happens when a label is applied to someone that implies they are different, deviant, or somehow flawed (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). There are many different things that are stigmatized in our society: obesity, the LGBTQ+ community, certain chronic health disorders including infertility, and many more. If it in any way deviates from what most people consider “the norm”, there is most likely a certain stigma attached to it. Once someone learns that you are associated with a stigmatizing characteristic, that becomes the master status by which they will judge everything else about you (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). They see you through the lens of this stigma and this influences their perception of your whole character, usually in a very negative way.

One thing that I have personally witnessed start to become less stigmatized is tattoos and piercings. Just 10 or 15 years ago, virtually no one was allowed to have visible tattoos, facial piercings, or excessive ear piercings in the service industry. In 2006, I was a waitress at a breakfast restaurant chain, and I had an eyebrow piercing. Their dress and appearance code was very strict about no facial piercings, and no more than two earrings in each ear. I had put a clear retainer in my piercing to go to work, and even that wasn’t acceptable as I was made to take it out during work hours. I recently went back to that chain and noticed that many of the people working there had facial piercings and visible tattoos, signifying to me that times were changing and these body modifications were becoming more accepted.

If only it worked like that with everything, right? There have been many campaigns to try to bring more awareness to mental health issues in an attempt to reduce the stigma surrounding them. There have been a few studies that suggest that while a person’s verbal acceptance – what they say about it – of mental illnesses is much higher than their actual behavioral acceptance – what they do when faced with an actual opportunity to prove this acceptance (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). The researchers would verify that an apartment for rent was still available and then they would call these landlords, posing as someone who identified themselves as a former or current psychiatric patient in need of housing accommodations (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). They found that in about 90% of these situations, the landlord provided “deliberately falsified” information about the availability of the apartment (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). In other words, they lied. People like to give acceptance of those with mental illnesses a lot of lip service, but maintain their same stigmatized views which go along with the theme of public acceptance but private rejection (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). This can be attributed to the social desirability of acceptance… even if someone isn’t really accepting, they don’t want to look bad by admitting it (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).

People with mental illnesses are often more stigmatized than people with physical illnesses (Ozer, Varlik, Ceri, Ince, & Arslan-Delice, 2017). They are often viewed by society as dangerous, frightening, unstable, irresponsible, unpredictable, and having communication issues (Ozer, Varlik, Ceri, Ince, & Arslan-Delice, 2017). That is some pretty heavy stuff. Is it any surprise then, that all people with any degree of mental illness are all lumped together like this and any time a serious crime is committed (like a mass shooting), it is automatically assumed that the perpetrator is mentally ill while being sensationalized by the media? While it is true that certain psychiatric conditions, like schizophrenia, are associated with violent behavior, it is only a small percentage of them and “even if the elevated risk of violence in people with mental illness is reduced to the average risk in those without mental illness, an estimated 96% of the violence that currently occurs in the general population would continue to occur” (Varshney, Mahapatra, & Krishnan et al, 2016).

Add on top of all of this that the media in the form of newspapers, TV shows, and movies, hardly every portrays people with mental illness in a flattering light. This only works to strengthen the stigma associated with the belief that mentally ill people are often violent and unpredictable and dangerous to others. As I mentioned earlier, the media loves to sensationalize tragic events and portray these violent offenders as mentally ill even when there is no such information to confirm this belief.

What can be done about this? There is some evidence that suggests that giving people information that counters these stigmas before they are introduced to stigmatizing portrayals of mental illness can help to reduce the perceived stigma (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Education always seems to be the key, doesn’t it? Parents and schools need to teach acceptance and inclusion of all different people of all different abilities and statuses to reduce the stigma not just of mental illness, but many other things as well.


NAMI. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

Ozer U, Varlik C, Ceri V, Ince B, Arslan-Delice M. Change starts with us: stigmatizing attitudes towards mental illnesses and the use of stigmatizing language among mental health professionals. Dusunen Adam The Journal of Psychiatry and Neurological Sciences 2017;30:224-232. https://doi.org/10.5350/DAJPN2017300306

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.). (2012). Applied Social Psychology. Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Varshney MMahapatra AKrishnan V, et al Violence and mental illness: what is the true story? 

Mar 19

Bystander Effect at PSU Frat Emergency

During this week’s assigned readings in Applied Social Psychology, Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems, by Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, we learned about the bystander effect. The bystander effect is defined as a phenomenon that occurs when multiple witnesses of an emergency fail to get involved (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts). There are three triggers related to the bystander effect: Audience inhibition, social influence, and diffusion of responsibility (Latane & Nida, 1981).

  • Audience inhibition: A bystander may choose not to intervene in an emergency because they are afraid of embarrassing themselves in front of other people (Latane & Nida, 1981).
  • Social influence: When bystanders do not know how to act in an emergency situation, they will look to other bystanders for cues on how to act in the ambiguous situation. Unfortunately, in an ambiguous situation, most of the bystanders will not know how to act and everyone will be looking for cues from each other. This results in none of the bystanders getting involved (Latane & Nida, 1981).
  • Diffusion of responsibility: Bystanders believe they do not need to help in an emergency because someone else will (Latane & Nida, 1981).

Since I have learned about the bystander effect, I have been thinking of tragedies that could have been prevented if proper help was initiated. One tragedy that sticks out to me is the incident that occurred on February 2, 2017 at The Pennsylvania State University. Unfortunately, it is possible that the bystander effect influenced events that led up to the death of Tim Piazza.


For those who do not know, Tim Piazza was a sophomore at Penn State University who died from a collapsed lung, lacerated spleen, and a fractured skull after a bid-acceptance night at Beta Theta Pi (Pallotto, 2019). Below, I will address the incidents that occurred (reported by Benjamin Wallace of Vanity Fair) and how they could have been influenced by the bystander effect:

Tim was extremely intoxicated and fell down the basement stairs. After some time, a few of his fraternity brothers carried him back upstairs. Tim was obviously unconscious and had multiple visible injuries, but they set him on the couch and carried on with the night. Every single person at the fraternity house physically saw Tim and the condition he was in, yet no one did anything. Finally, one of the fraternity brothers argued with another that they needed to call 911 and got shoved. 911 was not called and the party continued. The party eventually ended and everyone left, leaving Tim alone for the remainder of the night. Two fraternity brothers found Tim the next morning and did not call 911 for almost an hour after (Wallace, 2017).

  • Audience inhibition: It is possible that the bystanders (fraternity brothers, other party-goers) did not call 911 or try to help Tim in any other ways because they were afraid they would be ostracized for it. In fact, this actually occurred when a fraternity brother wanted to call 911 and got pushed across the room for it.
  • Social influence: It is possible that the emergency that occurred was ambiguous. Some of the fraternity brothers and other people at the party may not have understood what exactly was going on with Tim. It is also possible they thought he was just black-out drunk like they have seen hundreds of other college students. It is also possible that the bystanders were too intoxicated to fully understand the circumstances of the situation. With this being said, the bystanders most likely looked to other bystanders to know how to react to the situation, and everyone was responding by ignoring the emergency and going on with the party.
  • Diffusion of responsibility: It is possible that the bystanders of the emergency thought that there were so many other people at the party, someone must have had called 911. Bystanders also may have assumed it was the president of the fraternity or the upperclassmen’s responsibility to get help.

Tragedies can be avoided if the proper help is initiated. However, due to the bystander effect, witnesses of an emergency often fail to get involved or get help because of audience inhibition, social influence, and/or diffusion of responsibility. Unfortunately, it is possible that the bystander effect contributed to the wrongful and premature death of Tim Piazza. As college students, it is important that we keep the bystander effect in mind if we are ever in an emergency situation like the one Tim and his fraternity brothers were in. Remembering the bystander effect could actually save a life.



Latané, B., & Nida, S. (1981). Ten years of research on group size and helping. Psychological Bulletin, 89(2), 308-324. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.89.2.308

Pallotto, Bret. (2019). It’s Been 2 Years Since Tim Piazza’s Death at Penn State. Here’s What’s Happened Since. Retrieved from: https://www.centredaily.com/news/local/community/state-college/article225340915.html

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.). (2012). Applied Social Psychology. Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Wallace, Benjamin. (2017). How a Fatal Frat Hazing Became Penn State’s Latest Campus Crisis. Retrieved from: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/10/penn-state-fraternity-hazing-death

Mar 19

Successful Teachers Make Successful Students

It is well known that scholastic performance dictates the way school-aged children view themselves, and their ability to succeed in the present and future. When students begin to make social comparisons against peers who yield greater performance success, he or she may begin to associate poor performance with lack of ability. In these situations, it is imperative that students are able to gain the motivation to work harder to succeed and disassociate low performance with a lack of aptitude. The academic self-concept has been found to affect motivation and performance in a school setting and is constantly being influenced by the student’s beliefs and attitudes on their performance in comparison to others (Schneider et al., 2012). When students gain a sense of competency, they may begin to set higher academic goals and achieve higher academic success.  Therefore, it is essential that teachers are able to facilitate a classroom environment that boosts positive beliefs about academic skill amongst student’s alongside constructive feedback on performance to help him or her improve (Schneider et al., 2012).

Much of the time, the “system” of education as a whole is criticized. However, reform on a macro scale may take more time to achieve than focusing on micro components, like teachers, for improvement within education. Teacher effectiveness and teacher-student relationships have direct and immediate effects on student performance. Hence, why it is important to discuss how teaching style may influence student learning to achieve optimal performance and ability for all students in a given classroom.

The cornerstone of the learning environment is profoundly determined by the student-teacher relationship. The formation of personal and supportive student-teacher relationships often requires much emotional involvement from teachers. For students, the quality of the student-teacher relationship is a determinant for their school engagement, wellbeing, and academic success. It has been found that positive teacher-student relationships also benefit teachers and the classroom, as, it heightens an educators personal commitment to the student’s success (Spilt et al., 2011). It is also true that not all teachers feel responsible for improving their relationships with students, nor do they understand the positive effects relationships have on student motivation and outcomes (Spilt et al., 2011). According to the Academic-Risk Hypothesis, children at-risk include those with low socioeconomic status, or SES, ethnic minority status, and those with learning difficulties will be more significantly influenced by teacher-student relationships than normative students. A study by Roorda and collogues (2011) found support for this theory, specifically, that negative or conflictual relationships further deteriorated engagement and achievement for these disadvantaged groups with emphasis on those with learning difficulties. Sadly, this research coincides with the social psychological findings that teacher’s perceptions and expectations predict academic success more strongly for low achievers than high achievers (Schneider et al., 2012).

In addition, success in schools also depends largely on student’s abilities to engage in classroom learning tasks. There is a known association between the perceived classroom environment and student-engagement and motivation. Those perceptions students make directly affect their beliefs on their ability to complete school work which that influence his or her ability to engage in academic tasks. The classroom social environment has a large potential to change an adolescent’s personal beliefs about themselves and their potential, and therefore requires close consideration (Patrick et al., 2007). For instance, when students feel supported emotionally by their teacher, they are likely to engage more fully in their academic work and put forth more effort and are likely to have higher achievement. When student’s feel cared for by the teacher, it encourages them to invest in their material and to have a desire to comply with the teacher in a way that minimizes concerns that thwart learning (Patrick et al., 2007). This way, perceived teacher support may support intrinsic motivation and emphasize mastery goals. In addition, feelings of care, support, and encouragement from peers are important to facilitate participation in academic tasks by increasing confidence and improving distracting anxieties (Patrick et al., 2007).

Altogether, it is important that classrooms become less focused on the individual success of each specific student, and more concerned on improving the classroom relationship as a whole. A study by Patrick, Ryan, and Kaplan (2007) discovered that when students received emotional support from teachers and academic support from peers; personal motivation, mastery goals, and academic and social efficacy were heightened. This research emphasizes the influential power of the classroom environment. Therefore, it is plausible to conclude that student-teacher and student-student relationships should be collaborative, cooperative, adaptive, and supportive so the entire class may be able to thrive together. Unfortunately, if a classroom fails to achieve an optimal and equal level of support for all students, there is a great possibility or even certainty, that disadvantaged groups of at-risk students will suffer poorer academic achievement outcomes.


Patrick, H., Ryan, A. M., & Kaplan, A. (2007). Early adolescents’ perceptions of the classroom social environment, motivational beliefs, and engagement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(1), 83-98. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1037/0022-0663.99.1.83

Roorda, D. L., Koomen, H. M. Y., Spilt, J. L., & Oort, F. J. (2011). The influence of affective teacher-student relationships on students’ school engagement and achievement: A meta-analytic approach. Review of Educational Research, 81(4), 493-529. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.3102/0034654311421793

Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L. (2012).  Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Spilt, J. L., Koomen, H. M. Y., & Thijs, J. T. (2011). Teacher wellbeing: The importance of teacher-student relationships. Educational Psychology Review, 23(4), 457-477. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1007/s10648-011-9170-y



Mar 19

One more hour please

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), students who have later start times get five more hours a week of sleep (Facts, n.d.). That is 1 more hour a day! A congressional resolution for reconsidering school start times was presented by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) called “ZZZ’s to A’s” or H.C. Res. 135 back in April 2, 1999 (Start Time and Sleep, n.d.). Lofgren argued that students are not getting enough sleep, which is resulting in more students being sleep deprived (Start Time and Sleep, n.d.). Lofgren tried making efforts to pass the H.R. 1306 (114th ): ZZZ’s to A’s Act again in 2015. She reintroduced the bill back on April 28, 2017, but according to the status of the bill on the www.govtrack.us website it “died in a previous congress”(GovTrack.us, 2019).

The goal of Lofgren’s congressional resolution was to “encourage individual schools and school districts all over the country to move school start times to no earlier than 8:30 A.M.” (Congresswoman, 2003). Even though Lofgren’s bill was not passed, there has been a huge amount of feedback from school districts all across the nation who have been pushing back their start times (Congresswoman, 2003). Lofgren created the bill in 1999, however only four years later “34 school districts across 19 states have pushed school start times, and the research has led almost 100 additional school district changes” (Congresswoman, 2003). Lofgren encourages school’s to look at current research when deciding on altering their schools start times.

There are many outcomes of pushing back a schools start time, which include a decrease in students falling asleep in class, a great improvement in reaction time, and a decrease in tardiness (Minges & Redeker, 2015). Minges and Redeker (2015) found existing evidence that a student’s overall health, academic performance, classroom engagement, sleep duration, and a reduction in caffeine usage and depression will improve as well. In order for teens to preform there very best, they need to get the correct amount of sleep. What is the correct amount? The NSF suggests that teens should get about 8 to 10 hours of sleep everyday (Facts, n.d.). Students who slept less are more prone to feeling nervous, unhappy, tense, and are worried about too many things (Facts, n.d.).

            Fast forward to today, still not every school district has pushed back the start times as Lofgren had hoped. An advocacy group named “Start School Later” was created by students, sleep scientists, concerned citizens, educators, and healthcare professionals (About, n.d.). These individuals are dedicated to increase the public’s awareness on school start times, while also making sure they are compatible with an individuals “health, safety, education, and equity” (About, n.d.). This organization advocates for the push of school start times in legislation at local, national, and state levels (About, n.d.). Their webpage has a comprehensive list of various bills categorized by state that have or have not been successful. According to the State School Later webpage on legislation, at least 14 states have introduced a bill related to school hours. To view these clearer, please do so here. https://www.startschoollater.net/legislation.html Out of the 14 bills, only 4 have been state successes. One certification program in particular from the state of Maryland recognizes the school districts who implement the push in school start times by an Orange Ribbon for Healthy School Hours certification. This is how the school districts makes sure they are staying “consistent with the hours recommended by the Maryland Department of Education and specified organization” (Legislation, n.d.). This is a great way for parents, educators, and concerned citizens alike to make sure their school district is following the correct protocols for the start time pushbacks.

Now that you’re more informed on the legislation for school start times in the U.S., what are you going to do about it? Are you going to join an advocacy group to help promote the bills toward legislation or are you going to let this topic sit on the back burner? The choice is yours.


About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.startschoollater.net/about-us.html

Congresswoman Lofgren Urges Congress to ‘Wake-Up’ to the Problems of Adolescents Not Getting Enough. (2003). Retrieved from https://lofgren.house.gov/media/press-releases/congresswoman-lofgren-urges-congress-wake-problems-adolescents-not-getting

Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/teens-and-sleep

GovTrack.us. (2019). H.R. 1306 — 114th Congress: ZZZ’s to A’s Act. Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr1306

Legislation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.startschoollater.net/legislation.html

Start time and Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/school-start-time-and-sleep

Minges, K. E., & Redeker, N. S. (2015;2016;). Delayed school start times and adolescent sleep: A systematic review of the experimental evidence. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 28, 82-91. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2015.06.002


Mar 19

Does Our Education System Kill Creativity?

There has been much criticism of our education system because it seems like it hasn’t been adapted to current times or even improved upon. The idea of creativity has been just one of the topics that are often covered in these discussions. Can being creative mean different things to different people? What can we do to increase creativity in our students? The final, big question is does the way our school system work diminish student’s creativity?


I think many of us assume that creativity has one meaning. Some of us might also consider the idea that you are born with it or it can be developed. None of these thoughts are right or wrong. Creativity can be about imagination, self-expression, and innovation. Creativity can also mean using logic and scientific principles to solve problems (McLennan, 2019). There are definitely some people who are more creative than others. It is just a skill which some people possess more than others.

I don’t think education is about memorizing facts and dates as they teach in History. In school, we are encouraged not to color inside the lines. We are also taught that being “good” means being quiet and still (Dalile, 2012). While energetic students are usually reprimanded for being too hyper. Maybe it’s time to change what we teach and how. For instance, schools should start including a more diverse range of subjects in their curriculum (McLennan, 2019). We could have art or poetry classes. We could even start teaching traditional subjects in a different way. Instead of memorizing dates in history class students can act out certain events to feel connected to what they are learning.

There is no perfect school system but some are better than others. Schools can diminish creativity by the teaching style they use. Most of the subjects in school like math, science, and history (as I mentioned above) require structured right or wrong answers. While classes like art are available at schools they are usually taught as an elective and not a core subject. Maybe the procedure in which the above subjects are taught can increase creativity in young children.

To sum up, I would say our school system is not actively trying to destroy creativity. Just the way the learning takes place favors the skill of critical thinking over creativity. However, there are ways that we can keep the good things about our education system while increasing creative skills in our pupils. The first step is to consider our definition of creativity. The next step is for our schools to broaden their curriculum to include mandatory, more creative subjects (McLennan, 2019). I think it’s impotent to remember while our school system is not the best at fostering creativity we still have very bright and creative students coming out of it. Also, not everyone has to be skilled in creativity, we still need future leaders who are more talented in critical thinking.

Works Cited

Dalile, L. (2012, June 10). How Schools Are Killing Creativity. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/line-dalile/a-dictator-racing-to-nowh_b_1409138.html

McLennan, N. (2019). Do schools really “kill creativity”? – RSA. Retrieved from https://www.thersa.org/discover/publications-and-articles/rsa-blogs/2018/04/do-schools-kill-creativity

(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?safe=strict&biw=1280&bih=665&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=K2mYXLvQGtKSjwStm7PIDA&q=ourclassroms then and now&oq=our classroms then and now&gs_l=img.3…56720.63098..63275…4.0..0.183.2194.27j3……1….1..gws-wiz-img…..0..35i39j0j0i67.Kn35kXzm9bQ#imgrc=srCiKBEtEz8TiM:


Mar 19

The History of Learning and What is Success?

In the time that humans were hunters and gathers, children were used in the realm of work and the education component included much in the way of work and play.  As the Industrial Revolution began, children became enslaved and play started to disappear.  They were sent to work in the agriculture fields and the manufacturing plants during the Industrial age to meet the needs of the lords and the landowners.  During the 17th century, the education system evolved into a structure that is somewhat reflective of what we know learning to be today.  The church stepped in because they wanted children to be able to read.  The learning was frequently done through inculcation and again, fun and play were replaced by hard work and repetition.  Into the 19th century tests and exams were set up to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the training (Grey, 2008).

When we think about education today, there are so many factors that affect the students’ ability to meet the expectations of the educators.  One of the biggest challenges that students face is comparing themselves to other students.  Am I smart? do I have friends? How do I fit in? Each of these questions brings a comparison of ourselves and our scholastic abilities to our peers. This is called the social comparison theory which can create in the student a sense of ‘I need to try harder’ if the differences are not too great.  It can also be completely defeating if the student doesn’t feel capable and the gap is too great (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012).

As a career coach who works with people in recovery, I frequently see the defeatist attitude in my clients around education because they never felt like they fit in.  Their home environments were unstable and unsupportive which caused low self-esteem.  This carried forward into their school environment, where their esteem issues brought forth the self-fulfilling prophecy.  The teachers and other students have a low expectation of these students which would help to maintain an unsupportive learning environment.  They would get left behind and drop out of school, or if they were lucky, graduate with marginal marks.  According to the research of Rosenthal and Jacobson’s, Pygmalion in the Classroom, teachers unwittingly contributed to the betterment of the perceived, engaged students.  This also exacerbated the experience of those who were not engaged for the teacher, which ultimately contributed to the demise of the disengaged student (Schneider et al., 2012).

Today I spend my time with my clients to help them see the value and contribution that they can potentially bring to the community.  We look at the areas that the client has felt successful and put our energy into identifying an employment direction that will create a sense of satisfaction for them.  According to Ken Robinson in his book Finding Your Element How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life, (2013) he focuses on three key principals to create these successful outcomes.  These principals include; 1) Your life is unique, 2) Create your own life and 3) Your life is organic.  My work is doing exactly this, helping each client to see the experiences that they have had and how their experience can inform their opportunities going forward.  They create their life by setting goals that allow them to match their yet to be filled desires.  Often this is about returning to school and finding the right supports in the educational system to set them up for success.  When they focus on their strengths in education they are successful which helps to rebuild their self-esteem which perpetuates their re-creation.  Finally, we talk about how the process is organic, and that being open to something that they had not anticipated can further set them up for success.  One of the other key messages of Ken Robinson’s book is that the education system can inhibit our creativity because we are expected to follow this linear model.  But life doesn’t always work like that.

Behind us are the days of laborious work and education during the industrial age that created compliance amongst children.  We are moving into a time where education is the currency of success and this currency is inflated.  A bachelor’s degree used to get you a solid well-paying job but now a master’s degree is often the minimum requirement.   To this end, our schools need to develop strategies that don’t ostracise the learner who has still not found out how to fit.  They need to create a learning environment that focuses’ on the learner’s strengths which creates a sense of success.  In using my clients’ strengths they have been able to move past their attitude of defeat to a space of “I am interested and engaged, I can see my way to success”.


Grey, P., PhD (2008, August 20). A Brief History of Education. Retrieved April 24, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/freedom-learn/200808/brief-history-education

Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2013). Finding your element: Living a life of passion and purpose. New York: Viking.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: Sage.


Mar 19

Go Home and Fix your Hair

For this week’s lesson, we learned about how stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination can have dire effects on the education system. We were told to watch two videos: The first being the experiment with Jane Elliott’s A Class Divided (Frontline, 1985) and the second being the Bandura Bobo Doll Experiment (H Kaplan, 2009). However, the experiment with Jane Elliot caught my attention, because this issue that she was trying to address could be compared to some issues that students face in a school setting.

The day after Martin Luther King jr was assassinated, Jane Elliot, a small-town teacher from Iowa, did a daring experiment where she treated children with blue eyes as the superior children and the children with brown eyes as inferior-this led to children with blue eyes discriminating the children with brown eyes. These children from the experiment are still affected by this experiment till this day (Frontline, 1985).

Elliott’s experiment reminded me of an issue that we are facing today. Children are being sent home, suspended from school, and discriminated against because of their hair. Children with curly hair, in particular African Americans, are getting into trouble in schools, simply because their natural hair is not in accordance with school policy. There are many videos and articles circling around social media, showing young children often crying as they have to leave school, because they have been told to fix their hair or else they would not be able to attend class (Sini, 2018). Children with this particular type of hair texture are being singled out in front of other classmates and being told that if they do not follow school policies they will get into trouble.

The children’s hair are usually in styles such as braids, cornrows, dreadlocks, or simply a brushed out afro. The children are often told that they have unnatural hair styles and that is the reason for being sent home or suspended from school; however, the other children with bleached hair or highlights do not get sent home from school, which leads to the children feeling discriminated against. Two young twin sisters from a Massachusetts school got suspended from school because they were told that their braided hair extensions did not follow school policy (Mettler, 2017). The two sisters, Mya and Deanna Cook, felt that they were being punished for being black and that the policy disrespected black girls. The girls were kicked off school sports teams, banished from prom, and received hours of detention for refusing to change their professionally braided hair. The mother of the twins mentioned that all the black girls in the school were taken outside for hair inspection; this is disturbing because this singles out the girls and is a direct form of discrimination (Mettler, 2017). This reminded me of Elliott’s experiment “A Class Divided” (Frontline, 1985). Young black girls are being singled out and the other students who are not black are watching the event take place. What is the school teaching black and non-black students?  The schools are teaching them lifelong lessons of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against black girls and that some hairstyles and hair textures are intolerable. They are teaching young black girls that their natural hair and hairstyles are unacceptable. The teachers across the country should not be allowed to do such things. They are setting a terrible example for the young children attending these schools.

Majority of American school policies have dress codes that also address what hairstyles are allowed and not allowed in schools. The dress codes mentioned things such as hairstyle should not be distracting to other students or children should have their natural hair color (nprEd, 2017). These policies are then used to discriminate the young children’s hair and deemed as distracting (nprEd, 2017).

Should hairstyles and hair texture really be a determination of a child’s performance in school? Hairstyles such as braids, cornrows and dreadlocks are natural hairstyles and can be compared to a ponytail. These hairstyles are worn as a way to either manage, style, and protect (protective hairstyles) children’s hair. Just because they have a different way of wearing their hair does not mean that it is a bad or a negative thing–it is simply a hairstyle. And when you brush out curly hair, the hairs will separate and create an afro hairstyle.

Young children are being deprived from being able to go to school. In an article published in nprEd (2017) titled, “When Black Hair Violates the Dress Code” addressed the issue of young black girls being suspended from schools because of breaking the dress code and furthermore, it interferes with the girls’ education. In the article by Daniel J. Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, it stated that black student suspension rates are higher than their peers’. In addition, he found that at the highest-suspending charter schools in the nation, the majority of students were black. The article also mentions that when analyzing what the suspensions in charter schools were for, it consisted of minor nonviolent offenses including dress code violation, which were half of all the subsections in schools across the country (nprEd, 2017).

This is a discrimination that many young children are facing in our schools, we must revisit our school policies and furthermore come to the conclusion that children with curly hair are not a distraction or unnatural and that their hairstyles, which have been worn for centuries, are not going to distract other students or interfere with their learning abilities. Students facing this discrimination are experiencing limitation to the education they receive and furthermore this type of discrimination can impact their mental health. Young girls and boys should not be denied education because of their hair.


References :

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

H Kaplan. (2009, Nov. 19). Bandura Bobo Doll. Retrieved from Bandura Bobo Doll.wmv (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Mettler, Katie Mettler (2017, May 22)Black Girls at Mass. school win freedom to wear hair braid extensions. Retrived from  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/05/22/black-girls-at-mass-school-win-freedom-to-wear-hair-braid-extensions/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.79fac7dd56d3

nprEd (2017, July 17). When Black Hair Violets The Dress Code. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/07/17/534448313/when-black-hair-violates-the-dress-code

Sini, Rozina (2018 Aug. 23). US School Faces Backlash after black Student’s Unnatural Hair Criticised. Retrieved from  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45269540




Mar 19

Is Preschool Beneficial?

Education is a very useful tool that we use in our everyday lives, from using our knowledge for our jobs or just simply by knowing how to read. A world without education would be a very dull and boring place. We wouldn’t have anything fun or exciting to do without at least one person asking why certain things occur in life. Without education it may be hard for society to even communicate efficiently and effectively. As we grew up to adults, we have truly learned just how important our education was or can be.

When someone becomes a parent, it can help them to realize how important school really is, because now you are thinking for your child rather than just yourself. One of the first kind of education programs that are available to your growing toddler is Preschool. Many parents of all ages have many different opinions about school at such an early age. Some believe the longer you are at home with your child the better off they are in the long run because of the nurturing effect. Nurture means to help raise your offspring and encourage their development (Nurture. n.d.). Others believe that the earlier their child starts the easier the transition will be to kindergarten.

Preschool can be very beneficial to our children. It can help them to grow as individuals, learn to appropriately interact with others, teach them how to act in a classroom and much more. Education at an early age can only help them to develop. “Children who attend preschool are more likely to have long-term educational success, attend post high school education and even have a higher income in their careers” (Shrier, C., 2015, March 06).

A lot of people in society believe that most parents that send their kids to school at an early age need the “childcare” and that is why they send them (Wright, K. 2018, February 6). But this is not always the case. For instance, my son was born premature and had many delays since he was born. He was in an early intervention program throughout his whole life until the school system took over at the age of 3. He is now 4 and he still needs some guidance on his speech. The reason I chose to send my child to preschool is because it was recommended by his therapists and I knew it would give him a good experience to be around other kids his age that can talk well. Within just a few months his speech improved drastically. The teachers have also taught him how to behave around others and follow directions. Having a routine and structure daily has helped him to improve his behavior throughout the day and night. This is another benefit to having your child attend an early learning program. Even though your child attends school it is still our jobs as parents to nurture them to the fullest and help them grow as individuals. Without preschool my son would still be more behind than kids his age. “Kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who don’t” (Sanchez, C. 2017, May 03).

Reasons why some parents choose to keep their children home instead of taking them to preschool is because, they want one-on-one time with them, they wanted to teach them the basics, it can be expensive to send them to school, one parent is a stay at home mom/dad, etc… A few parents also believe their child is not socially or developmentally prepared for a classroom and they have a fear of them hating school at an early age (Wright, K. 2018, February 6).

These can all be valid points but when it comes to parenting every parent has different views and opinions on education for their children. Our main jobs as parents is to help them learn, develop, and give them as much love as we possibly can. When it comes to preschool there is no right or wrong way to raise your growing toddler. But according to professional experts it can be more beneficial for your child to attend preschool, rather than not.


Nurture. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2019, from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/nurture

Sanchez, C. (2017, May 03). Pre-K: Decades Worth Of Studies, One Strong Message. Retrieved March 24, 2019, from https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/05/03/524907739/pre-k-decades-worth-of-studies-one-strong-message

Shrier, C. (2015, March 06). Should I send my child to preschool? Retrieved March 24, 2019, from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/should_i_send_my_child_to_preschool

Wright, K. (2018, February 6). Why I’m Not Sending My Kid to Preschool. Retrieved March 24, 2019, from https://www.google.com/amp/s/mom.me/toddler/207234-why-i-said-no-preschool/amp/

Picture: http://clipart-library.com/images-of-preschool-children.html

Mar 19

The Overjustification Effect in Education

How the educational system approaches motivation in the classroom has a lasting impact on a student’s inclination to learn.  First, it is important to note the two different types of motivation:  intrinsic and extrinsic.  According to the APA, intrinsic motivation is defined as “an incentive to engage in a specific activity that derives from pleasure in the activity itself (e.g., a genuine interest in a subject studied) rather than because of any external benefits that might be obtained (e.g., money, course credits)” (APA, 2018).  Whereas the definition for extrinsic motivation is essentially flipped around, “an incentive to engage in a specific activity that derives from pleasure in the activity itself (e.g., a genuine interest in a subject studied) rather than because of any external benefits that might be obtained (e.g., money, course credits)” (APA, 2018).

Ideally, intrinsic motivation is in the forefront of the learning process.  However, that is not always the case in the educational system.  It has been argued by psychologists that schools are very extrinsically oriented (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).  Can you recall any of your teachers using a type of reward in the classroom? Pizza parties, prizes, extra credit, etc.  These are things that fall under the category of extrinsic motivation to complete a task.  This is not always a bad thing, but it can certainly lead to a shift in perspective. Students may start to look at engaging in schoolwork for the benefit of the reward, rather than the enjoyment of learning something new.  This shift in motivation is known as the overjustification effect, the loss of motivation and interest as a result of receiving an excessive external reward (Schneider et al., 2012).

Deci (1971) conducted a study that shows the effects of extrinsic motivators on intrinsic motivation.  Undergraduate students that displayed intrinsic motivation for completing a puzzle (doing it out of enjoyment) were separated into two groups.  Those in the experimental group were offered a payment for solving the puzzle, which now blended extrinsic factors with the initial intrinsic motivation.  The experimental group then showed an increase in time spent on working on the puzzle due to the reward.  The financial incentive was then removed and both groups were compared.  Those that were previously paid to complete the puzzle were remarkably less motivated to complete the puzzle, compared to the control group who continued to work on the puzzle longer, which confirms the overjustification effect.  Interestingly, Deci conducted another experiment in the study which used verbal reinforcement and positive feedback as forms of extrinsic motivation (replacing the money incentive).  The group that received the positive feedback showed an increase in intrinsic motivation, compared to the group that did not receive any reinforcement or feedback.

These findings are important to note for ways to combat the overjustification effect in schools as supported by self-determination theory (SDT).  This is the degree to which an individual sees themselves as being autonomous and having a choice in actions and behaviors, without feeling pressured to behave in a particular manner (Deci & Ryan, 1985).  Extrinsic motivation can undermine an individual’s sense of autonomy and thus their intrinsic motivation to do something because they attribute their actions to the external reward.  Educational systems should consider these effects, and instead strive to foster an environment that strengthens students’ sense of autonomy which will increase their intrinsic motivation to learn.


Deci, E. L. (1971). Effects of externally mediated rewards on intrinsic motivation.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 18(1), 105-115. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1037/h0030644

Deci, E. L. & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York:  Plenum Press.

Intrinsic Motivation. APA Dictionary of Psychology.  Retrieved from https://dictionary.apa.org/intrinsic-motivation

Extrinsic Motivation. APA Dictionary of Psychology.  Retrieved from https://dictionary.apa.org/extrinsic-motivation

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.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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