What is an "ethnicity" class?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by dansuz1, Jan 25, 2006.

  1. dansuz1 macrumors member

    dansuz1

    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #1
    I read an article on MSNBC yesterday about a student in Pittsburgh who was forced to sit on the floor because he wore a Denver Bronco's short. In the story was a blurb about how he was in an "ethnicity" class.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10994228/

    What is an "ethnicity" class? I understand what ethnicity is, but don't understand what kind of course can be taught around the subject. Is this a common course nowadays?

    I have BA and an MBA, but in all my years in school never heard of such a thing.

    Can anyone explain this to me?

    Dan
     
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #2
    That's a weird story. That teacher's behavior seems... well, either he/she is mentally ill, or needs to be fired, but either way, needs to be pulled from the classroom, if that's accurate. :(

    I'm not sure what the class is, but it's pretty common now for undergraduate institutions, particularly liberal arts programs, to have "race and ethnicity" requirements. Basically it typically involves taking a course that explores an academic topic from the non-dominant perspective. Like in psychology, courses that explicitly deal with doing therapy with people who come from outside the dominant culture, or psychological research of race and ethnicity. In literature it might be a class that looks at major contributions from non-Caucasian American writers (like Morrison and Hurston and others) who are very important in the American canon, but are often not included in traditional literature reviews. And so on.

    In my experience, it's usually been something that can be incorporated in a way that enhances the curriculum. When I was an undergrad at Michigan, the liberal arts college (LSA) had such a requirement, but the engineering college did not. I still ended up taking a course that would have met the requirement as part of my humanities electives. Now, I think I'm on the hook for meeting this sort of requirement for the American Psychological Association, in pursuit of licensure in the future. But I may have already met it with an African American Psychology class, which was actually really valuable in any event.

    I'd guess that at the high school, it's just a class that rounds out history and/or sociology by talking about the parts of our culture that don't get enough play in history books that concentrate on the links between the wars and the presidents and Europe and the Americas, and so on.
     
  3. dansuz1 thread starter macrumors member

    dansuz1

    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
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    Washington, D.C.
    #3
    That makes sense. It just seemed an odd title for a class. It probably is titled something like "Race and Ethnicity in Modern American Literature".

    I wonder how prevalent this requirement is across the country? My High School didn't offer any course at all like this. And while my undergrad school (Arizona State) offered it, it wasn't a requirement (and I was in the CLAS).

    And as for the teacher - if he doesn't get fired he definately needs some serious counseling about his behavior. It's one thing to punish/correct a student for inappropriate behavior, but wearing another team's shirt definately is not inappropriate behavior. These sports nuts need to take a chill pill.

    Thanks for the insight.
     
  4. MarkCollette macrumors 68000

    MarkCollette

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    Calgary, Canada
    #4
    Maybe I'm a little prone to giving the benefit of the doubt, but maybe the whole point was to arbitrarily mistreat someone, for future discussion about how certain ethnic groups have been historically mistreated.
     
  5. Lau Guest

    #5
    Yeah, wasn't there a well known experiment in a class that told everyone with blue eyes they were 'better' and those with brown were 'worse', and then made them take a test that the brown eyed students did worse in? The experiment was to prove that being racially (or other) discriminated against meant people performed less well if they were constantly put down like that. It's hinted in the article that the teacher was doing a similar experiment.
     
  6. quigleybc macrumors 68030

    quigleybc

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    Beautiful Vancouver British Columbia, Canada
    #6
    Serves the kid right for being a Broncos fan.....:eek:
     
  7. maya macrumors 68040

    maya

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    #7

    Good thing (s)he was not expelled. :eek: ;) :D
     
  8. thedude110 macrumors 68020

    thedude110

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    Jun 13, 2005
    #8
    Indeed -- famous enough that it's not only well known across teacher training programs, but as I understand it, still regularly replicated across elementary school classrooms.

    The difference here is that instead of ostracizing a group of individuals, the teacher ostracized one specific individual in a very public way.

    @The Thread (and not Lau)
    The teacher should be reprimanded, but not fired. We all make serious mistakes in our profession -- for teachers, mistakes in practice are foregrounded because these mistakes can harm individuals. Teachers need to be allowed to learn from their mistakes, even if their mistakes cause mild harm to others.

    Oh. The pedagogy behind ethnicity classes in suburbia (as I understand it -- mind you I'm not teaching in suburbia) is to sensitize kids of privilege to the fact that they have not only privilege and opportunity, but power.

    I'd be shocked if any public high school had a mandatory class such as this (I think Fox News would be all over it ...)
     
  9. Lau Guest

    #9
    Good point. Although ostracising one pupil could be making a point (like that bullying one person can be hugely damaging) it is going too far, in my opinion. The experiment I mentioned earlier I think caused quite an uproar after it was done - but as thedude :D says, that was on a group, and there is an element of solidarity in a group. The feeling of being picked out unfairly while you're a teenager is pretty harsh.
     
  10. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #10
    Also, if it's an "experiment," it needs to be approved by an institutional review board (and it wouldn't be today), and it needs to have appropriate safeguards like debriefing the students and making sure that they are not harmed in the process of the experiment. That original experiment was interesting, but what happened here, if it was an experiment was not ethical.
     
  11. MarkCollette macrumors 68000

    MarkCollette

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2003
    Location:
    Calgary, Canada
    #11
    Next you'll be saying we can't do viral experiments on humans. Bwaahaaahaaahaaaa !

    / Cue the Evil Scientists recoiling in horror
     
  12. Stampyhead macrumors 68020

    Stampyhead

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    Location:
    London, UK
    #12
    Yeah, if that's really what it was. I'm more inclined to think the teacher was one of these obsessive "sports fans" for whom sports has blurred the lines between fantasy and reality, and was just taking out his dislike for the Broncos on a poor student who happened to be wearing their shirt. The "experiment" story probably came about later as an attempt to save his sorry @$$
     

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