Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Technology and Whistling Vivaldi

I've long been interested in the work Josh Aronson and Claude Steele published on Stereotype Threat. I've also become increasingly interested in incorporating technology into teaching, so much so that it has become my job. Diversity work has been a passion. So has tech 2.0. I've never really combined these interests or thought about them at the same time.

Central to Steele's thesis and data supports it is the idea at some level everyone is susceptible to apprehension stemming from an awareness of a negative stereotype about one's group. I am fortunate to be a straight, cis, white male of some means in the USA and even I am in situations where my status as a white man leads to apprehension. Steele's point is that one does not even need to be consciously aware in the moment of the difference for it to have a caustic effect. Check out his most famous work, Whistling Vivaldi.

What interests me here is does it have a connection to technology? How many slow adapters to technology are victims of stereotype threat.? Do people simply think they can't do it? Again, the most insidious part of stereotype threat is that one doesn't have to be aware of one's own thinking at a conscious level. The thinking is internalized. The way one manages stereotype threat is to emphasize effort not innate talent- a growth mindset, provide for role models, and to reframe the task to minimize situations in which task descriptions trigger self-defeating stereotypes. Thus, how do I reframe my teaching of technology to folks hesitant to embrace it if stereotype threat plays a role in their reticence?

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