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New Report Links African American and NZ Maori Achievements
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New Report Links African American and NZ Maori Achievements

By Tough Love | toughloveletters.wordpress.com

A report released in New Zealand recently shows that Maori and African American children perform just as poorly as each other in school, with prejudice of the teachers to blame. 

The Unconscious Bias and Education report cites systemic level bias as a major contributor to the increasingly poor learning outcomes of Maori students. This is despite New Zealand’s education system for many years having special Maori achievement strategies written in to it’s charter to try and boost the learning outcomes of 'disadvantaged' students.

Researcher Anton Blank told reporters:

"[There are] definitely socio-economic factors - and I mean that's patently obvious that children who live in poorer areas do less well in the education system.

But even controlling for that there is still a very, very significant gap. We argue that that is about the unconscious bias at play between teachers and students."

Mr Blank told Radio New Zealand’s Media Watch the problem is that we favour those who are like us to the exclusion to those who are not.  

“We all favour people like us, so we‘re all subject to what they call 'in-group favouratism'....moreover we tend to develop negative stereotypes about other groups”.

Mr Blank then went on to somewhat contradict his position by citing studies of American classrooms that found white students were rewarded by their peers for high academic achievement while black students were penalised by their own peers, and he said that this self-policing operates in a New Zealand context a s well.

The solution offered by the report is to work with teachers to make them aware of the problem of their unconscious bias.

Report co-author Dr Houkamau states:

"The thing is with implicit bias is people don't know that they've got it, so when you talk to people about it it can be really quite difficult, it can be quite confronting."

Read more here.

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