In the book The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen J. Gould (1996) discusses the culture behind biological determinism (i.e., the belief that the disparity in status among various groups arises from innate biological differences). He criticizes the practice of measuring intelligence as a single quantity, something that had become a common practice in the United States.
In the United States, intelligence testing became a device of power and its use led to the Immigration Act of 1924, which primarily restricted the entry of people from Southern and Eastern Europe due to their tendency to score low on the test. Unbelievably, immigrants were frequently tested in English when they arrived in the United States. Even worse, many were rejected based on the perspective that they had a dull and unintelligent appearance.
How does any of this relate to multicultural psychology?
In the modern society, people are tested all the time and certain cultural groups tend to perform worse than others on standardized tests. The end result of a poor score is not deportation; however, a poor score could limit access to higher education and other resources. In elementary school, poor test scores might even lead to negative labels and tracking, which could change the life of a child.
There is no denying that there are cultural differences with regard to education and testing. However, there are some parallels between what happened to the immigrants and what often happens to different cultural groups as they appear for aptitude or achievement tests. Many are so unfamiliar and confused when they go for testing that they are beset with anxiety. In such situations, the people are totally unfamiliar with the format of the test and the language.
In your response, address the following:
Gould, S. J. (1996). The mismeasure of man. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
In the United States, there are cultural subgroups that do not speak formal English in their home environment. The method of speaking is more than a difference in accent; it is considered a dialect. Numerous people view these dialects as subordinate ways of speaking. Some individuals who have been raised in a home with Ebonics, for example, try to shuck (eliminate) their learned speech patterns as they age and progress through the educational system and socioeconomic hierarchy.
Consider a highly educated and competent African American man named Doug Perry who grew up in a household where his mother spoke grammatically incorrect English. Perry has a business degree from a prestigious university and is successful. He writes effectively, using good mechanics when writing; however, when Perry speaks, he often makes grammatical slips in areas such as subject–verb agreement. He does not even notice the slip most of the time until someone, such as his wife or a colleague, corrects him. His experience, the anecdotal findings of others, as well as research studies have shown that dialectical patterns are difficult to change.
This discussion question focuses on US dialects such as Ebonics. The first thing to consider is how children who speak Ebonics are treated in the classroom. Should they be penalized for mechanics as they learn to write? Do you think that correcting the children in a harsh way or telling them that the way they speak is wrong would make them feel negative about their ability and familial culture?
In your response, address the following:
Drivonikou, G. V., Kay, P., Regier, T., Ivry, R. B., Gilbert, A. L., Franklin, A., & Davies, I. R. L. (2007).Further evidence that Whorfianeffects are stronger in the right visual field than the left.Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, 104(3),1097–1102.
Pixner, S., Moeller, K., Hermanova, V., Nuerk, H. C., & Kaufmann, L. (2011). Whorf reloaded: Language effects on nonverbalnumber processing in first grade—A trilingual study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108(2), 371–382.
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