August 7, 2020

Teachers see black children as angry when they aren’t

Black children aren't angry

From right to left, the story for why black children aren’t reaching their potential lives within the child. Or, their family. Their culutre. Their community.

If only they had two parents, better jobs, more time to read at home. It wouldn’t hurt if they had middle-class social benefits. Put those things together and there wouldn’t be a racialized gap in student achievement.

Ok. I won’t argue there. But lets set aside the condition of the child for a moment and consider this new study that finds teachers are less likely to accurately read the facial expression of black students. This only adds to the research I won’t stop talking about that shows black children are seen as less innocent, less capable, and older than they actually are.

When we talk about inequities in education, why don’t we talk about these things?

Eventually, we have to ask the question: “regardless of the condition of the child, aren’t their too many problems in the system that need fixing before blaming children for their own maltreatment?”

Read this from the study:

Prospective teachers are more likely to perceive Black than White elementary and middle-school students as angry, even when they’re not, according to new research published in Emotion. The findings suggest that Black children face a racialized anger bias in school.

“We know a lot about emotion and emotion expression, and we wanted to use our skills toward a question that really mattered and specifically, mattered for social justice,” said study author Shevaun D. Neupert, a professor at North Carolina State University and director of The Daily Well Being in Adulthood Lab.

For the study, 178 prospective teachers from three training programs in the Southeast were shown 72 short video clips of child actors’ facial expressions, and were asked to identify the emotion being displayed. The video clips included both Black and White students and male and female students.

“We hired child actors to display six different emotions and we had professionals who could make all six facial expressions on demand to work with the children until they were able to do so,” Neupert explained. “Then we took short video clips and we made sure that each expression was showing the desired emotion and only that emotion.”

Those emotions included happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise or disgust.

Overall, the researchers found that teachers were more accurate at identifying the facial expressions of girls than boys. The teachers’ emotional evaluations also tended to be more accurate for White girls than Black girls, while being more accurate for Black boys than for White boys.

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