Research shows that, in an education context, assuming a child is an underachiever directly impacts their academic outcomes, affecting their belief in their own ability.1 And yet, a number of studies highlight the fact that Australian teachers often hold different expectations of their students based on racial identity.2 For example, a 2015 study of 199 Australian teachers found a majority expected Anglo-Australian students to perform better than Indigenous students in mathematics courses.3 Even if expectations aren’t intentional, they can still be racist.
It’s true that structural barriers play a role in limiting the opportunities and outcomes of some communities. This can lead to differences in the overall employment rates, graduation rates, and health outcomes for people of different racial identities. However, acknowledging this doesn’t mean we simply expect more or less from someone. It means we have work to do in tearing down those biases and structural barriers to ensure that everyone is provided with equitable access and opportunities.
By reflecting on the impact of racism, and taking a stand against it, we can build a fair and equal society – for all.
It stops with me.
1 Department of Education and Training (Victoria) and the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (Report, 2016) <https://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/childhood/providers/edcare/veyldframework.pdf>.
2 Justin Dandy et al, ’Academic Expectations of Australian Students from Aboriginal, Asian and Anglo Backgrounds: Perspectives of Teachers, Trainee-teachers and Students’ (2015) 62(1) International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 60; Huw Peacock et al, ‘Upholding heightened expectation of Indigenous children? Parents do, teachers do not’ (2020) 50(2) The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education 331.
3 Justin Dandy et al, ’Academic Expectations of Australian Students from Aboriginal, Asian and Anglo Backgrounds: Perspectives of Teachers, Trainee-teachers and Students’ (2015) 62(1) International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 60.