BIPOC Children and Their Academic Sense of Self

Both BIPOC and white students exhibited positive self-esteem. The BIPOC kids felt good about themselves, and the white kids did too. However, BIPOC students did not connect as strongly with academics. They didn’t think it was for them in the same way the white students did. They also didn’t receive as high grades. Even so, the important and interesting thing is, these students still had very positive self-esteem overall.

Researchers speculate that this reflects a kind of detachment from academics. This is possibly due to the cultural stereotypes and biased behaviors that BIPOC students experience. Children’s experiences in school are strongly shaped by teachers’ conscious and unconscious biases. Some people are likely to expect less of BIPOC students or be more critical of their behavior. After repeated messages telling them that they are not expected to do well academically, BIPOC students may separate academic performance from their sense of self. This allows them to maintain a positive sense of self, despite the negative messaging, because they can detach their self-esteem from their academic performance. The academic stereotypes don’t hurt as much because they don’t apply when you don’t think of academics as part of who you are.

  • Academic sense of self
    how a person thinks of themself as a student
    the belief that some people or ideas are better than others, usually resulting in unfair treatment
    Black, Indigenous, people of color
    thoughts or feelings that we are aware of
    Growth mindset
    the belief that, with effort, you can learn and achieve new things.
    In-group preference
    the tendency to form close relationships with others in a person’s same groups
    a cluster of characteristics, such as feeling confident, having pride in oneself, and a sense of self-worth
    Sense of self
    how a person thinks and feels about their self
    a widespread belief that a person must have a trait because they belong to a particular group
    thoughts or feelings that we are unaware of