In class, and at home, I read about the three gaps in Enid Lee’s piece, “Anti-Racist, Pulling Together to Close the Gaps.” The gaps are academic, individual, and community. These gaps can expand throughout the course of a child’s education, but they can also be closed. I was struck by the individual gap: students from different cultural backgrounds come to school with different skills, but the teacher/ school often only welcomes a predetermined set of skills that do not always reflect the talent and intelligence of the students. Teachers then lower their expectations for students of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds; this can be a reflection of stereotypes based on general academic gaps among different cultures. The result is not that students excel in slower classes with lower expectations. Instead, students leave school feeling less confident and motivated, because they have been treated as a lesser student.
This did strike me as interesting; I have heard of the academic gap, but I had never considered an individual gap caused by placing students in remedial, lower level classes. This reminded me of other conversations about culturally relevant and inclusive classrooms that we have had: a school’s AP placement and the intentional, proactive work needed to let parents know their students were invited to be in AP. a teacher intentionally praising students infant of guests to build confidence.
I can see through the BH&H readings how a very subtle system can repress students of certain cultural backgrounds.