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How to Break Down Stereotypes

March 10, 2020

How to Break Down Stereotypes

Use this resource to unpack how we as educators can break down stereotypes and misconceptions for our students with videos produced by teen journalists.


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Engage with Stories and Break Down Stereotypes

“No Labels Attached: Breaking Down Misconceptions & Stereotypes explores” is a video series produced by the PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs (SRL) about how young people break down misconceptions and challenge stereotypes about who they are. SRL’s teen reporters produce videos that inspire youth to find their voice and engage with their communities. You can watch the full series here. Or on Youtube here. You may want to turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function.

Break Down Stereotypes: Choice 1

Watch the featured video, “African American cellist deals with stereotypes in classical music world” and answer the discussion questions.

Break Down Stereotypes: Choice 2

Break your class into different groups. Have them read the summary, pick a video to watch from the list below and answer the discussion questions. Each group should choose one question they would like to share with the class as a whole.  You may want to turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function

Break Down Stereotypes: Choice 3

Scroll down to the extension activity on How students experience and cope with racist stereotypespublished on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. You may want to turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function.

Discussion questions:

  1. Essential question: Why do you think people label others and use stereotypes?
  2. What stereotypes and labels are discussed in the video(s) and why are they hurtful?
  3. How does representation and diversity in school, work and pop culture affect young people?
  4. How can you educate others to be more inclusive and not give into stereotypes and labels?
  5. Have you ever been labeled in a way that you didn’t like or didn’t feel right to you? What did you learn about yourself from the experience?
    • If you said something at the time to the person, what did you say? If you didn’t say anything, you’re not the exception. What might you say to the person if a similar circumstance were to arise?
  6. Media literacy: Why do you think Student Reporting Labs made the No Labels Attached series? Whose voices did you hear represented in the videos? Are there any voices you would have liked to have heard from? Explain.

Extension activity

Take a look at NewsHour’s How students experience and cope with racist stereotypespublished on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

  • In interviews with their peers, student journalists found teenagers grappling with a variety of racial misconceptions, ranging from annoying attitudes to deeply hurtful views.
  • Fifty-three years after King said those words, American students told SRL reporters that they still encounter racial stereotypes in their daily lives in this PBS NewsHour story.
  • Mini-assignment: Have your students watch the videos from the NewsHour story above.
    • Ask your students: What was going on in America in 1967 that prompted Martin Luther King Jr. to say, “Racism is still deeply rooted all over America”? How have these problems remained a part of American society? How have they gotten better?
    • “I’m African American and Native American. I receive racial slurs from students, racial slurs from teachers,” said Angie of Clinton Township, Michigan. “I’ve been stared at, regularly, on the street from normal pedestrians…It’s things like that I’ve dealt with in this generation.”  Ask your students: What would you say to a friend if he/she told you about a similar experience? How could you make it clear that you heard what your friend was saying? How could you show empathy?

Break Down Stereotypes and Teach Empathy in the Classroom

Teach the importance of empathy in educators' interactions with students and in students' interactions with others and explore this webinar titled, "Strategies for Developing Empathy in Your Classroom" with Share My Lesson and Teaching Tolerance.

break down stereotypes and teach empathy in the classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.


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