Valley College is a melting pot!

When misperceptions about the capabilities of older students take the form of microaggressions, they affect older students in the same way that they do members of racial minorities, eroding self-esteem.

“Daily we are witness to, or even unwitting participants in, cruel imagery, jokes, language, and attitudes directed at older people,” contends Dr. Robert Butler, president the International Longevity Center-USA and the person who coined the term “ageism” 35 years ago.

We've all seen "in good humor" over-the-hill bday cards.

Harassment can include, for example, offensive remarks about a person's disability. Although the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren't considered very serious...

these slights, though not considered "legal" harassment add to a persons overall feelings of helplessness, frustration, unhappiness, and health.

Verbal slights and assumptions about gender are a common occurrence on college campuses.

Increased inclusion at many colleges doesn’t automatically solve everything for LGBT students. 

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), 20% of college students fear for their physical safety due to their gender identity or their perceived sexual orientation.

The most common form of harassment towards LGBT college students is derogatory remarks. However, verbal threats, graffiti and the pressure to keep quiet about sexual orientation and/or gender identity are also common.

Even for therapists who have received

extensive multicultural training , racism often is

manifested unconsciously in the counseling process

Although colleges and universities are considered "progressive" outright racism has been replaced with the microaggression.

MICROAGGRESSION: A comment or action that is subtly and often unintentionally hostile or demeaning to a member of a minority or marginalized group.

But what about student/tutor or student/teacher relationships?

Try to avoid the following phrases:

“It is obvious/clear/trivial that . . .”

Unintended message:

You’re stupid if you can’t see it right away.


Explain the meaning of

these phrases in mathematical/scientific

culture. Or say instead: “It is

straightforward, with some work, to

show that . . .”

Using the word “just,” as in “The rest is

just algebra.”

Unintended message:

You’re not cut out for math if you can’t do


(Beware especially how this

message gets conveyed in Lagrange

multiplier problems, where the

nastiest part of the solution is the



Remove the word “just”

and explain the difference between

calculation and insight.

Asking “Are there any ques-

tions?” and then quickly moving on.

Unintended message:

Questions are not normal or expected.


Show that questions are

welcomed. “It’s normal to have ques-

tions, and I’d love to hear yours. And

others in our class will thank you

for asking a question they’re also

thinking.” Pause to give students

time to think of a question.

“Give the idea of the proof in plain



"Explain in your answer in plain English"


Unintended message:

You can’t succeed

in math if your English skills aren’t

good enough.


“Give the idea of the proof

in your own words.”

Discussing a proof based on a simple

insight: “You either get it, or you


Unintended message:

You either understand math or you don’t, and if

you don’t, you’ll never get it.


“Once you see the main

insight, the rest of the proof will

make sense and fall into place.”

“There’s a trick for doing this.”

Unintended message:

There’s a secret list of things that only insiders



“There’s a technique for

doing this.”

Using sarcastic language to be funny.

For example, I once joked, “Hello!

Is anyone out there?” when no one

answered a question I posed to a

sleepy 8 a.m. class. Only later did I

realize some students felt belittled.

Unintended message:

You’re an idiot.


Avoid sarcasm, or repeat-

edly remind students that your

humor has a sarcastic edge.

Using only male pronouns/European

names in examples.

Unintended message:

Only European men can be mathematicians.


Vary your use of pronouns,

names, and cultural examples to

reflect the diversity we hope to see

in mathematics/science. These can provide

positive associations that break


In Closing:

By carefully discussing our topics and avoiding microaggression with our students we can help them to ultimately be more successful and happy individuals.

And now... John T.!

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How to Be a Good Teacher Without Microaggressing

by hassanithomas


Public - 9/2/16, 1:48 PM