Do adults negatively influence children’s stereotypes?

Today as I was working on a paper for my EPSY course regarding students with exceptionalities, I came across a TED Talks episode which I found to be quite interesting. The speaker, Aimee Mullins begins the talk by describing a presentation she gave to young students about her prosthetic legs and the opportunities and abilities that she has because of them. However, she discusses how she made a deal with the teachers to be able to see the students alone in the room before any adults were allowed to come in, she did this because she did not want the students to be ‘tainted’ by the actions of the adults. She did not want them to hold back on their curiosity because of what they would be influenced to think is appropriate and respectful. . . “And just like that I went from being a woman that these kids would have been trained to see as disabled to somebody that had potential that their bodies didn’t have yet, somebody that might even be super abled. Interesting.” (Feb. 2009). And I indeed do find that to be very interesting. I have posted the link below to the episode.

Aimee Mullins and her 12 pairs of legs | Video on TED.com.

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2 thoughts on “Do adults negatively influence children’s stereotypes?

  1. That sounds like a really good video Jane. Its interesting how the students act differently when the adults aren’t in the room. This reminded me of a hospital tour a did with some kindergartens about 3 years ago. I remember walking by a man in a wheel chair who had one of those contraptions (not sure what its actually called) on this head to keep it in place for when people break their spine. The little boy I was walking with just turned to him and said “what’s on your head?” and I immediately shushed him. Thinking back, the boy was just curious and my deeply engrained societal norms killed his curiosity in fear of being rude or hurtful to the person in the wheelchair. I definitely think adults perpetuate stereotypes and influences how children see the world.

  2. The “talk” teachers gives students before a guest arrives isn’t something I had thought about until I read your post. I can totally see how something that starts as good intentions for trying to make sure students are on their best behaviour for a visitor, could unintentionally send a message to students about the presenter. I think this falls under that umbrella of the hidden curriculum we talked about in ECS 200, and how we need to be aware of the messages we send to students. Thanks for posting, Jane. Definitely something worth thinking about.

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