Fifth Reading Response

Something I learned while reading this chapter was just how much poverty affects a child growing up. There are the obvious negative effects, like very little family support, very little money for food, and others like that, but the thing I never considered was that poverty affects a child before they are even born, as families in poverty have less access to good prenatal and infant health care. On top of this, children in poverty are more likely to be exposed to both legal and illegal drugs before birth. When you know this, you realize how children in poverty are essentially put ten steps back behind children who are not in poverty right from the get go.

Another thing I learned was about stereotype threat, where when a stereotyped individual is in a situation where a stereotype applies, they bear an extra emotional and cognitive burden. As a white male, I’ve never really had to think about any stereotypes I might have (aside from the “Canadian’s always apologize” stereotype, but that is quite different and less taxing to think about), so I’ve never thought about how much burden a stereotyped individual might have when they are put into a scenario where others may judge them based on that stereotype.

One more thing I learned while reading this chapter was the term gender schema. I’ve heard of the concept before – an organized network of knowledge about what it means to be male or female – but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a term associated with it before. The thing that interests me the most is how early gender schema is introduced into children’s lives, which is around age 5.  It really goes to show how socially constructed our society is that even young children can pick up on the social cues between genders.

One thing I had connected with during the reading was the differences between ethnicity and race. This was something I have discussed with other classmates in a class I took in my first year, so the differences between the two is something I am already aware of, that being, ethnicity is a group’s shared common cultural characteristics, and race being a category composed of those who share biologically transmitted traits. One thing new to me in this section, however, is that the term ‘minority group’ refers to both ethnicities and races, as I thought it only referred to races and not ethnicities.

Something else I connected with is the idea behind gender bias. Again, this is something that I have discussed at length with classmates in a previous education class. Gender bias is having more representation on one gender over the other. Despite the movements to remove it from schools, gender bias still pops up every now and again, whether it be through book covers, titles or videos shown in class. Gender bias also shows up in teaching, as studies have shown that teachers give much more attention to boys over girls. This is true for all levels of school, from preschool all the way to university or college.

One question I still have after the reading is regarding the single-sex classrooms that it talks about in the text. The text states that studies have shown that single-sex classrooms benefit the students learning, but I wonder what kind of effects it would have on one’s social life? Would only being around same sex classmates/peers affect them in any way, and would it be a negative or a positive change?