Mark's parents encourage him to try new activities. He just started taking ballet class and he really enjoys it; he also met a lot of new friends in his ballet class. Some of his friends in the neighborhood found out that he was taking ballet class and started to make fun of him, calling him a girl. Mark ended up quitting ballet class. His friends used a stereotype when they chose to tease him, thinking only girls would want to take ballet. Imagine for a minute if stereotypes didn't exist. Everyone could be comfortable being unique without being judged.
Today you will learn about stereotypes and how to prevent yourself from applying stereotypes inappropriately to others.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world" (Gandhi).
Stereotypes are learned attitudes that have significant impact on our behaviors.
We learn them from a variety of sources including television, books, music, our peers, families, etc. Stereotypes are generalizations made about a group of people that are usually based on inaccurate or incomplete information. They can be positive or negative, but both can have negative consequences for the person or people being stereotyped.
Whenever we stereotype someone, we are ignoring him or her as an individual and lumping the whole group together as “they are all like that.” Stereotypes can be very difficult to change. Stereotypes happen when we judge people from our own frame of reference or our own cultural expectations about how people should look, behave, talk, etc. This can cause misunderstandings (on both sides) and misjudgments.
Stereotypes can be broken. When we bring people together to open up and honestly share who they are, stereotypes begin to shatter. We discover that other people are not the mental picture created by our stereotype.
Interview a parent, grandparent, or older family member about stereotypes they may hold about others. Use the Sample Interview Questions handout in Downloadable Resources as a guide. You can create your own questions as well. Once you have completed your interview, write a two-paragraph summary of what you learned and how you can help your family member break down the stereotypes.