By: Tyler, 19, Loretto
One of the primary challenges that today's youth face is discrimination within the education system. Because discrimination hurts, it can be devastating to a students educational and emotional progress. Notably, by allowing discrimination to exist we are robbing our youth.
Discrimination is expressed through the use of dirty and often damaging remarks. Common examples of this vocabulary include terms like "fag", "skid", and "scrape"; words whose meaning are often obscure and ambiguous. One thing that most of these terms have in common is their connection with the taboos of our culture, a place for fear and uncertainty among adolescent youth. When confronted, students demonstrate reluctance to challenge their society for fear of embarrassment and public ridicule.
To escape being discriminated against, students form small and exclusive groups known as cliques. A clique could be described as a herd of wild animals: accepting of individuals with identical characteristics and aggressive towards outsiders. Once formed, the herd is maintained through a complex social hierarchy. To attain social status, members must conform and demonstrate dedication to the norms established by the herd; it is possible to loose social standing if one doesn't conform. Accordingly, by discriminating against outsiders the clique gains status.
As a result, students become accustomed to conforming to typical teenager protocol to avoid discrimination. This creates prejudice within the academic environment and sets the foundation for students to make prejudgments about others. Students will socialize with their own herd to receive its protection. Anyone outside the group is inferior causing students to associate only with individuals who share corresponding characteristics. This we could identify as the primary motive behind stereotyping in school.
Perhaps, schools themselves foster stereotypes that are potentially damaging to students. A common example of this is the assumption that if you are born into a wealthy family it is expected that you will attend university. Conversely, if you are born into a lower-class family it is anticipated you enter the work force following high school. These types of assumptions discriminate on the basis of birth. Do schools teach students that one's origins determine one's future?
To persuade students from discriminating against others, educators must engage the potential of all students. Conclusively, the education system should strive to endorse individuality in the early stages of child development. With prolonged exposure to a prejudice-free environment, youth will become accustomed to accepting diversity. Outside of school, students should participate in community projects that support individuals of various backgrounds and cultures to prevent ethnocentricity. By attempting to remove discrimination from school, youth develop a comprehensive understanding of what factors produce negative attitudes and cause discrimination.