Contributions to education made by Aristotle, Socrates, and Hippocrates Essay
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In a Eurocentric based educational curriculum, we are constantly being bombarded by the “illustrious” contributions made by various Europeans such as Aristotle, Socrates, and Hippocrates. In almost every subject, from the sciences to mathematics, we are reminded about how these Europeans have made significant impacts to shape the societies in which we live in. However, seldom are we edified on the profound contributions made by black intellects throughout history. Seldom, are we taught about the once prosperous African Kingdoms: Ghana, Mali, and Songhai.
Seldom, are we taught about how many of the “discoveries” made by Greek Philosophers we actually stole from African ideologies? Thus, we are programmed to believing that the majority of the people living in Africa were a primitive people with no civilization; however, it can be evidenced that blacks have made significant that have shaped our society today.
Considering the extremely tense social conditions of the day, there is unequivocally a no better time to be cognizant of the contributions of African -Americans across all fields, particularly those in psychology. Moreover, the field of psychology has blatantly marginalized, and in many cases omitted, the vast contributions of African-Americans. We are always told about the Wilhelm Wundt’s and Sigmund Freud’s of psychology. We never hear about the Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s, who discovered that a great amount of self- conscious development and racial identity happens between ages three and four years old. This discovery is extremely important in understanding the development of children and how they perceive the world during different stages of development.
With that stated, the aim of this term paper is to acknowledge and outline the life and contributions of world renown African-American psychologist: Claude Steele. Steele is known for his research in social psychology and his immense contributions to the development of stereotype threat. In essence, stereotype threat is a situation in which people feel that they are at a risk of conforming to stereotypes held about their social group. He also conducted research regarding the role of alcohol on the cognitive dissonance and responses to extreme social predicaments. In addition, this term paper will seek to answer multiple questions. Such as who is Claude Steele? What are his most notable achievements? What is stereotype threat? In regards, to the relevance of the term paper, the topic that it covers is very significant to what is going on in today’s society. It addresses how stereotypes are enforced socially and the effects that they have on various social groups.
Claude Mason Steele was born on January 1st, 1946 to a working-class family in Chicago, Illinois. His mother, Ruth Steele, was a social worker and his father, Shelby Steele was a truck driver. Steele grew up in a time in which the Civil Rights Movement was at its peak. African- Americans were speaking out against the injustices and the inequality that they had been facing since their ancestors stepped foot on American soil. Moreover, Steele’s father kept him involved in the civil rights movement by taking him and his brother to marches, rallies, protests, and other forms of civil rights expressions. The civil rights events that Claude Steele witnessed in his childhood directly influenced some the research that he executed as a social psychologist in the latter stages of his life.
Education of Claude Steele
In the early, to mid-20th century it was commonplace for many African-Americans to have menial jobs such as being a receptionist, janitor, maid, truck driver etc. This is because there was an ideology burgeoned by Booker T. Washington which essentially said that in order for blacks to progress as a people (post slavery) they must look for technical occupations such as those mentioned in the aforementioned sentence. However, there was another, but quite unpopular, ideology expressed by W.E.B DuBois which argued that the only true way for blacks to reap true equality is through education.
Similar to many African-Americans of the time, Claude Steele’s father, Shelby, wanted his sons to achieve financial security and success. However, unlike many blacks of the time, Shelby wanted his sons to achieve that success through education. Thus, this engendered Claude’s interest in the academic study and eventually attend many prestigious institutions. “He was educated at Hiram college and at Ohio State University, where he received his Ph.D. in psychology in 1971. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, Yale University, Princeton University, and from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Plous 1).” Moreover, Steele developed his interest in social psychology at Hiram college after reading several novels and gaining inspiration Kenneth Clark after listening to him discuss the psychological aspects of race riots in 1964.
Steele’s exposure to the Civil Rights Movement as child spurred his desire to understand the psychological implications of society at the time. This would also influence the types of experiments that he executed as a beginner psychologist at Hiram College. Some of the experiments that he carried out as an undergraduate was studying how African- American dialect among children maintains ethnic/ racial identity. He attended graduate school at THE Ohio State University where he studied social psychology and earned his masters in 1969 and his Ph.D. in 1971.
Social Psychology is a field of scientific study that focuses on how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the presence of society. In essence “it is the scientific field that seeks to understand the nature and causes of individual behavior in social situations. It, therefore, looks at human behavior as influenced other people and the social context in which this occurs (Baron, Byrne & Suls,6)” Social psychology can cover a broad spectrum of issues such as social cognition, violence and aggression, group behavior, and social influence. This branch of psychology has to lead to discoveries such as why groups and prejudices form (social identity theory), why we don’t help others (Bystander Apathy) and why we have a tendency to conform to societal norms.
Claude Steele is recognized as a leader in the field of Social psychology. He has conducted very revered social experiments that led to the development of several world renown social theories. Steele’s studies have led to three distinct and heavily significant developments in social psychology: Addictive behaviors, Self-Affirmation, and Stereotype Threat. Steele’s most popular development, Stereotype Threat, addresses how one’s cognizance of a particular social stereotype can interfere with performance due to fears of playing in that stereotype. The Addictive Behaviors theory suggest to how addictive substances like alcohol can impair with long-term cognitive dissonance and social responses. The Self- Affirmation theory “posits that people have a fundamental motivation to maintain self- integrity, a perception of themselves as good, virtuous, and able to predict and control important outcomes. In virtually all cultures and historical periods, there are socially shared conceptions of what it means to be a person of self-integrity. (Steele 72)” In essence the Self-Affirmation theory suggests that people have the desire to maintain self- trust and to be able to see themselves as being in control of their situation.
A stereotype is a “widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or the idea of a particular type of person or thing (Dictionary.com).” In addition, a stereotype can be used as a label to categorize certain social groups as being associated with certain characteristics and or behaviors. Examples of stereotypes are “all black people are loud” or “all Asians are good at math.” In recent times there has been much speculation on whether stereotypes can negatively tamper with performance in academic, social, and professional settings. This speculation has led to the development of the Stereotype Threat theory.
The Stereotype Threat, according to Claude Steele’s “Stereotype Threat and African-American Student Achievement”, entails that “the threat of being viewed through the lens of a negative stereotype, or the fear of doing something that would inadvertently confirm that stereotype (Steele 253).” This theory suggests that when a person is in a certain academic, social, or professional environment and they are cognizant of certain stigmas held about their social group, they will be fearful of behaving in a manner that would make them fit the stereotype. Claude Steele was a major factor in the development and consolidation of the Stereotype Threat Theory. He executed several experiments that supported the hypothesis of Stereotype Threat having a negative impact on academic performance.
In one of his experiments, Steele tested how the academic performance of students can suffer if they suspect that they are being seen through the lens of race and gender. This experiment consisted of using black and white participants with the same academic credentials and SAT scores to take the Graduate Record Exam assessment. The experimentation group was told that the test would identify their intellectual ability, whilst the control group was told that test was a rudimentary problem-solving task. Due to the stereotype of blacks having an intelligence inferior to that of whites, Steele posited that black participants in the experimental group would elicit the stigma and would therefore perform scoreless on the assessment, relative to the score of whites. The results of the experiment were as expected; according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (No.65) “black students’ performance deteriorated on a variety of tests when they thought that the tests assessed their intellectual abilities. The students’ performance rebounded when they thought the tests were meaningless laboratory tasks (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65).” In brief, the test scores revealed that there was a correlation between the Stereotype Threat Theory and the academic performance of people from a particular social group.
Addictive behaviors or behavioral addictions a caused by a stimulus that leads into repetitive subsequent behaviors. These behaviors exhibit feelings that are simultaneously rewarding and reinforcing, this leads into addiction. There are several behaviors that can act as stimulants of addiction such as drugs, gambling, video games, alcohol, shopping, etc. Drug addiction, in particular, can lead to the user having a physical and psychological dependence. With physical dependence “After using the drug for some period of time, the body becomes unable to function normally without the drug and the person is said to be dependent or addicted. (White 166) In contrast, psychological dependence is when “The body may not need or crave the drug, and people may not experience the symptoms of physical withdrawal or tolerance, but they will continue to use the drug because they think they need it.” Alcohol is a psychoactive drug known as a depressant, that nullifies the senses and heavy doses of it can lead to an altered state of consciousness, commonly known as being “drunk”. Despite being known for his contributions to the Stereotype Threat theory, Steele was also heavily involved in research concerning Addictive Behaviors. He focused on behaviors that were