Pathways through Adolescence: Individual Development in Relation to Social Contexts

By Lisa J. Crockett; Ann C. Crouter | Go to book overview

early intervention, there is a need for supportive significant adults who interact in a positive manner with students, and additional opportunities to explore various talents in community-based or school-related programs. Unfortunately, in most major urban school districts -- faced with budget cuts -- art, music, gym, and shops are the first programs to go. Having these options available are critical for some students' motivation and long-term persistence.

Finally, it is necessary to shift people's thinking from risk to resilience, particularly teachers, principals, and other adults working with youth. This requires a change in the beliefs, structures, and policies that are currently in practice. Expectations are a part, but not all, that must change. If I ask teachers about IQ, a majority will say it is fixed and immutable, and that there is not much that can be done to change it. They feel intelligence is largely genetic, and that there are racial/ethnic group differences. Most teachers might also agree that environment plays a part. However, because of the extremely impoverished homes from which many students come, teachers feel that students are incapable of performing academically. Thus, when these belief systems are ingrained and fixed in teachers' minds, it makes no sense to talk about changing expectations, planning for long-term success, using protective mechanisms, or developing resilience in inner-city and disadvantaged children. Unfortunately, individuals' perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes are not easily changed. Within the control of school administrators and teachers is the ability to change the structures, language, and policies that impact individual belief systems. Schools and classrooms must incorporate diversity training, multiethnic views, curricula, and so on, but also be critically examined for congruence with the four protective processes discussed earlier. Currently, policies such as tracking, readiness testing, Chapter I, special education, and ability grouping may serve the needs of some students, but for the most part they do not act as protective mechanisms. There needs to be a critical rethinking of what we do with and to African American and other racial/ethnic minority students to provide necessary protective mechanisms to foster resilience and success.


REFERENCES

Alexander L., & Garibaldi A. ( 1983, April). The relationship of educational and career aspi- rations of Black students to college matriculation and completion. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, Quebec, Can- ada.

Allen W., & Farley R. ( 1987). The color line and the quality of life in America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Antonovsky A. ( 1979). Health, stress and coping. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Arbeiter S. ( 1987). Black enrollments: The case of the missing students. Change, 19(3), 14-19.

Blackwell J. ( 1990). Blacks and Hispanics in the educational pipeline. In G. E. Thomas (Ed.), U.S. race relations in the 1980s and 1990s challenges and alternatives. Washington, DC: Hemisphere.

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