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Teaching Challenges

Challenging Stereotypes

Stereotyping is a form of discrimination that judges whole groups of people by perceived features. Stereotyping can be funny; it is widely used by cartoonists. However, it also encourages fixed prejudices, denies individuality and diversity, and is often found associated with the undermining of human rights, such as through racism and sexism. Stereotyping has been identified as a step towards the intolerance that can ultimately lead to crimes against humanity. It is one of the responsibilities of a teacher to challenge stereotypical thinking. For history teachers this is relatively straightforward. Open-mindedness, multi-perspectivity, and the use of evidence are at the core of the discipline of history. Stereotypes rapidly look unpersuasive as evidence is applied to test them. Historians respect debate and difference, and the practice of the discipline in schools encourages students to develop the dispositions of mind which discourage stereotyping. Through studying history students learn to develop the skills of imagination to identify with the experience of others and to understand that the world has been and is experienced in varied ways. They also learn the consequences for societies of not celebrating diversity.

Learning Activities