Gifted Black Students Battle Stereotypes

By Katie Ash — March 19, 2008 1 min read
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We’ve talked before about students underperforming because of gender stereotypes, but Education Week‘s Lesli Maxwell has a story up on gifted students underperforming due to racial stereotypes. Gifted black students often feel pressured to “act black,” says the story, which students define as “being laid-back, being dumb or uneducated, and pretending not to be smart.”

This study points to a disconnect between students’ schools and their communities. If being educated is considered “white,” then studying and acting smart may make black gifted students feel that they are rejecting their black identity. Perhaps this choice could be assuaged if curricula was made to be both culturally sensitive and relevant to students’ lives. I’d guess that stronger ties between the school and the community could also ease tensions about stereotypes.

What do you think? Is this a problem you’ve encountered in your own classroom, and if so, how was it dealt with?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.