How to Transform a Tense Stereotype Situation in the Classroom to a Teachable Opportunity

Transforming a tense stereotypical situation in the classroom to a teachable opportunity requires proper motivation on the part of the teacher. A teacher who is properly motivated would be able to quickly dissolve the tensed atmosphere through his considerable skills as a practicing professional.

For example, let’s say student A, a black student, responded vehemently to a racial slur that was accidentally shouted by student B, a white student. Now the teacher who is properly motivated would be able to take that tensed situation and turn it into a teachable opportunity. Additionally, the aforementioned scenario is not to say that all black people are angry because of the actions of one black person. Neither are we to equate the racial slur made by the white student intentional or typical of the behavior of whites. That, my friend, would be creating stereotypes where they don’t belong.

Now, let’s take this scenario even further. The teacher who have had training in cultural diversity would be able to quiet the fears of his classroom by responding to the racial slur in appropriate ways. One way that the teacher could respond is by taking the racial slur and elaborating on its meaning. For example, student B could probably have shouted something like “that is such a niggardly thing to do” in responding to the teacher’s lecture. The teacher could use that phrase from our white student to elaborate on the meaning of niggardly. Of course, we all know what that word means, don’t we.  And the phrase, “That is such a niggardly thing to do” appears to the uninitiated or untrained a racial slur, but it’s not.  Yet the teacher who has been trained in cultural diversity coupled with proper motivations could turned that tensed situation into a teachable opportunity.

Another way that the teacher could respond is invite feedback from as many students as possible to reach some kind of consensus of the matter. He may begin this discussion delineating the term niggardly in shedding light on the meaning and how you are supposed to use it in a sentence. This all depends on how astute the teacher is in helping his students see how the term originated or passed down to us from its original Greek or Latin roots. Also, it depends on how much the teacher knows about word connotations and denotations.

Finally, transforming a stereotypical situation in the classroom into a teachable opportunity requires one to be trained in the art of cultural diversity.  Otherwise, that stereotypical situation can turned into a very tensed moment of truth to the uninitiated or untrained.  Fortunately for us we have teachers who have been trained in the art of cultural diversity in order to save face and prevent and an otherwise difficult situation from getting worse.  Thus, becoming cultural sensitive to all your students will mark you as a teacher of merit and you will never regret having gone into your profession.