Free Resources for
Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks
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Lesson 20 - Stereotypes
LESSON OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this lesson is so that students will understand that assumptions can lead to stereotypes and unfair judgments about individuals and groups and that stereotypes and biases affect our lives.
When we make assumptions about an entire group of people, those assumptions are referred to as stereotypes. When assumptions and stereotypes influence our attitudes, we may find that making a fair judgement about someone or something is difficult. This influence on judgement is called a “bias.”
Stereotype are general ideas of a person, created without taking the whole person into account. When we stereotype a group of people, we depict all of the individuals within that group as having the same characteristics even though they ae probably all very different.
Stereotypes normally reflect differences between one's own and a different culture.
Here is a more advanced definition (from the Oxford English Dictionary): "A stereotype is a preconceived and oversimplified idea of the characteristics which typify a person, situation, etc.; an attitude based on such a preconception. Also, a person who appears to conform closely to the idea of a type."
bias - Definition: Attitudes or behaviors based on stereotypes of people. Example: "When we omit people of color in our history lessons, we display a bias that suggests that their contributions are not important."
ethnicity - Definition: A categorization of people according to shared culture, language, or geographic region. Example: "The terms “Italian” and “Irish” describe two distinct ethnic groups."
race - Definition: A categorization of people based on shared biological traits such as skin color, hair texture, and eye shape. Example: "One function of the U.S. Census is to count the citizens by race, which is categorized as Black, White, Latino, or Native American."
are stereotypes and how do they affect people’s lives?
There is probably some truth in stereotypes, but they tend to be very general. For example, it is true that America is the home of Fast Food. With enterprises like Mc Donald's and KFC.
English speaking countries have many stereotypes about each other:
and Canadian thoughts on Americans...
thoughts on the British...
Common Stereotypes about the Gernmans include: The people like to drink beer, are always on time, unfriendly, especially in shops and supermarkets. Germans have rules, regulations and laws for everything.
STEREOTYPES (MEN / WOMEN)
A stereotype confirms the belief that if you are a girl or a boy, or a woman or a man, you must perform these specific roles, and do them well. This belief takes away our personal choices in deciding our own interests and skills. It also discourages men from participating in "women's work" (such as flower arranging and child care) and it restricts women from choosing roles that are traditionally "male" (such as engineering and science).
Have you ever experienced a situation where you were expected to act a certain way because you were a girl or a boy, even though it may not have been the way you felt like acting?
Stereotypes are generalizations about people usually based on inaccurate information or assumptions rather than facts. Stereotypes do not take into account the great diversity of people within a group of people. Nor do stereotypes consider the present circumstances of the individual. Even worse, stereotypes can lead to prejudicial or discriminatory behavior.
Stereotypes are learned. Young children learn to stereotype others by the comments or behavior of their parents or other adults in their lives. Some stereotypes show up in television, music, books, school textbooks, and advertising. People may learn stereotypes by believing someone else's opinion when they haven't had firsthand experience.
What can we do to reduce or eliminate stereotypes in our lives?
Focus on every person as an individual.