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教育偏见:一种细微而不易察觉的歧视

更新时间:2018-1-11 21:55:56 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Educationism: The hidden bias we often ignore
教育偏见:一种细微而不易察觉的歧视

The first time Lance Fusarelli set foot on a university campus, he felt surrounded by people who seemed to know more than him – about society, social graces and “everything that was different”.

当兰斯·福萨雷利(Lance Fusarelli)头次踏进大学校园时,他感觉周围的人对社会和社交礼仪方面懂得都比他要多,用他自己的话说,"所有一切都和过去不一样"。

He attributes these differences to his upbringing. While he didn’t grow up poor, it was in a working-class town in a small rural area in Avella, Pennsylvania. He was the first in his family to go to university – his mother got pregnant and had to drop out of school, while his father went to work in a coal mine in his mid-teens. He lived in an environment where few stayed in education beyond high school.

他把感受到的这种差异归咎于自己的出身。他出生于宾夕法尼亚州(Pennsylvania)阿维拉(Avella)县一座蓝领工人聚居的小镇,家庭条件在当地算不上贫困。他是自己家里第一个上大学的人。他的母亲由于怀孕而辍学,他的父亲在十五、六岁时就当了矿工。在他生活的这个小镇,极少有人在高中后还继续深造。

It worked out well for him. Fusarelli is now highly educated and a professor and director of graduate programmes at North Carolina State University. Occasionally he’s reminded of how he felt in those early days, when a colleague innocently corrected his imperfect grammar. “He wasn’t being mean, we were good friends, he just grew up in a different environment,” he says.  “Sometimes I will not always talk like an academic. I tend to use more colourful language.”

福萨雷利的大学学习生涯十分顺利。完成学业后,他目前已是北卡州立大学(North Carolina State University)教授兼研究生学科主管。但当一位同事好心地纠正他的语法错误时,他仍然不时回忆起初进大学的那些日子。"他并不坏,我们是好朋友。只不过他是在一个不同的环境中长大,"他说。"有些时候我不想像学究一样说话,我就用更生动和丰富多彩的语言。"

While Fusarelli has risen through the ranks of academia despite his background, his experiences have highlighted the social divide that can exist in education. For those who are less educated due to their disadvantaged background, they face a subtle but pervasive bias. A new report in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology named the term “educationism” and for the first time found clear evidence for what Fusarelli and many others have long suspected: educated people are implicitly biased against the less educated. And this has unfortunate, unintended consequences that often stem from the gap between the rich and poor.

尽管福萨雷利以他低微的出身背景在学术界闯出了名堂,但他的故事提醒我们,我们的教育体系中存在着严重的社会鸿沟。由于出身不好而教育水平较低的人群会面临着一种细微不易察觉却又无处不在的偏见。《实验社会心理学学刊》(Journal of Experimental Social Psychology)上最近刊登的一篇研究报告提出了"教育歧视"(educationism)一词,并首次举出明确证据证实了福萨雷利和很多其他人一直以来所猜测的现象:即受过良好教育的人群会在不自觉间歧视那些教育水平低的人。这种歧视会产生通常是由贫富差距所造成的不幸和不良后果。

It’s a “societal level” issue that creates a significant divide, says Toon Kuppens of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, part of the team who coined the term. “It needs to be addressed.”

荷兰格罗宁根大学(University of Groningen)的土恩·库朋斯(Toon Kuppens)称,这种"社会层面"的问题形成了严重的社会鸿沟,库朋斯同时也是提出"教育歧视"一词的团队成员之一。"这个问题需要解决"。

The idea that people are biased against the less educated is not a new one. In the 1980s the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called it the “racism of intelligence… of the dominant class”, which serves to justify their position in society. Bourdieu pointed to the fact that the education system was invented by the ruling classes, with middle-class knowledge and questions appearing in tests.

人们会歧视教育水平低的人并非新鲜观点。早在1980年代,法国社会学家皮埃尔·博迪约(Pierre Bourdieu)就将其称作"优势阶层的智力种族主义",优势阶层的人用它来显示他们社会地位的合理性。博迪约指出,教育体系是由统治阶层设计,教育考试中会考察和中产阶级所相适合的知识和问题。

Education also appears to divide society in many ways. Higher levels of educational attainment are linked to greater income, better health, improved well-being and elevated levels of employment. Educational status also reveals political divides. Those with lower qualifications were more likely to vote for Britain to leave the European Union, for example. One report even found that education level played a bigger role in the Brexit vote than age, sex or income.

教育还会通过多种方式形成社会分化。教育水平高通常跟更高的收入、更好的健康和福利水平、以及更高的就业水平相联系。教育状况还影响着人们的政治观点。例如,低教育阶层人士大多对英国脱欧投赞成票。有研究报告甚至发现,在英国脱欧公决中,教育差异比年龄、性别和收入差异影响更大。

Despite this long-held understanding, the existence of such a strong educational bias is rarely addressed head on, argues Kuppens, though there are numerous studies on gender, ethnicity and age prejudices.

库朋斯表示,尽管人们对此早有认识,然而,却很少有人对强烈的教育偏见展开正面研究,而对性别、民族和年龄偏见的研究则汗牛充栋。

To address this, Kuppens and colleagues set up several experiments to understand individuals’ attitude towards education. They asked subjects outright how positive and warm they felt about others, but they also asked indirectly by describing several individuals’ jobs and education background, which participants then had to evaluate positively or negatively.

针对这一问题,库朋斯及其同事设计了几项实验,从而了解个体对教育所持的态度。研究人员直接询问受试者,问他们对别人是否感觉正面和温暖,不过同时他们也向受试者描述别人的职业和教育背景,进行间接询问。最后,由受试者对这几人的可接受程度进行打分。

The results were clear - individuals who attained higher levels of education were liked more, both from high and lower-educated subjects. Participants who were more highly educated were clearly not “inherently more tolerant” than the lower-educated, as is commonly believed, says Kuppens.

结果很明显,无论受试者本身的教育水平高低,他们都更喜欢那些教育水平高的人。另外,结果很明显的显示,教育水平高的受试者并不比教育水平低的受试者天生具备更高的容忍度,而这与人们长期以来的看法相悖,库朋斯表示。

What’s more, he says that one of the reasons the bias exists is that education level is somehow perceived to be something people can control. “We are evaluating people – giving them negative attitudes – even though we know that in reality they cannot be blamed for their low education.”

另外,他说这种偏见存在的一个原因在于,人们感觉教育水平是个人能控制的事情。"我们都在评判他人并以消极态度对待他们,即便我们知道在现实生活中他们的教育水平低不是他们自己的原因。"

The reason people cannot be blamed for low levels of education is due to its link to poverty. Those from poor backgrounds quickly fall behind their classmates at school and fewer teens from disadvantaged backgrounds go to university.

人们教育水平低不是他们自身原因的因素在于教育与贫困之间的关联。在学校,贫困家庭学生的学习成绩会迅速落后于同学,同时这些家庭考入大学的学生人数也更少。

It is now becoming clearer that there are complex reasons for this – namely that poverty effects day-to-day decision making in previously unforeseen ways. Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington of the London School of Economics, says that a lack of resources is “psychologically constraining”. It also adds a sense of stigma and shame that creates low self-esteem, a pattern she says is more likely in societies with meritocratic ideologies, where an individual’s achievement is seen as being based largely upon intelligence and hard-work.

现在我们已经明白,这一现象背后的原因非常复杂。贫困会以我们之前不了解的方式对日常决策产生影响。伦敦经济学院的詹妮弗·设西-斯凯芬顿(Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington)表示,资源的缺乏会造成"心理压抑",同时还会给人以耻辱感和自卑感。在个人成就主要取决于其智力和勤奋程度的精英主义社会,这种现象更加普遍,詹妮弗表示。

Poverty even affects decision making. In one revealing study, Sheehy-Skeffington randomly assigned middle-income participants to different groups – some were told they were doing badly in society while others were successful. Those who were told they were “low status individuals” performed worse on both financial decisions and basic cognitive tasks.

贫困还会影响决策能力。在另一项更为深入的研究中,詹妮弗把中等收入受试者随机分配至不同的实验小组,同时告诉其中某些人他们在社会中的能力和地位较差,有些人则被告知是社会中成功人士。那些被告知自己是社会低层人士的的受试者在金融决策和基础认知测试中的表现都更差。

“That’s saying the cognitive skills you need in order to make good financial decisions aren’t readily available when you’re facing the stress of realising you’re doing worse than others,” she says. It’s not that their mental processes shut down, but rather that individuals were more focussed on the present threat to their status rather than concentrating on tasks at hand.

"这就是说,如果你知道自己能力较差,你就不会拥有做出正确财务决策所需的认知技能,"她说。他们并没有停止思考,但却更加顾虑对其地位的现有威胁,而没有专注思考手中的任务。

In her analysis on the psychology of poverty, Sheehy-Skeffington has found that those on low incomes feel a diminished sense of control over future life outcomes. “If you think you can’t control your future it makes sense to invest what limited energy or money you have to improve your present situation,” she says.

在其对贫困心理学的分析中,詹妮弗发现,低收入者对未来的生活目标缺乏控制能力。"如果你要是感觉自己无法控制未来,那么理所当然,你就会把你有限的资源或资金投入到旨在改善当前处境的举措中去,"她说。

Work like hers reveals a cycle that is hard to break: performance on mental tasks suffers when faced with financial constraints. And once these constraints exist, the ability to plan for the future and make sensible decisions is also negatively affected. This clearly plays out in the education system. Those who live in the present have less incentive to do well at school or plan for a higher education.

她所做的研究工作揭示了一条很难打破的循环:财务资源不足会导致无法有效完成脑力任务。这种不足只要存在,规划未来、并做出合理决策的能力就会受到削弱。这一点在教育体系中表现非常明显。那些只活在当下的学生就缺少动力在学校取得好成绩,或就未来的大学学习进行规划。

One team of researchers goes even further, however, arguing that the education system is “motivated to maintain the status quo” – where the children of highly-educated parents go to university, while children with less exposure to education go into vocational training or apprenticeships. This was highlighted in a 2017 study led by social psychologist Fabrizio Butera of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. His team showed that “examiners” scored individuals lower on the same task when they were told that the pupil came from a less privileged background.

一个研究小组则更为激进,认为教育体系"致力于维护现有社会状态":在这种制度下, 高学历父母的子女去读大学,低学历家庭的学生去读职业培训学校或进工厂当学徒。瑞士洛桑大学社会心理学家法布里奇奥·布特拉(Fabrizio Butera)于2017年发布的一项研究结果也证实了这一观点。他的研究小组发现,当被告知学生来自家境一般的家庭时,受试的模拟"考官"就给这些学生打了较低的分数。

“It’s like they consider a kid from a lower background shouldn’t be on that track, and therefore they effectively hinder their prospects as far as the continuation of education is concerned,” says Butera. “Perpetuating the status quo is a way to maintain the privilege that these classes have.”

"他们认为,来自底层家庭的学生前途较为暗淡,因此就调低了对这些学生未来学业前途的期望值,"布特拉表示。"继续现状是一个阶层保持特权的方法。"

And even if individuals from a working-class do reach higher education, they often have to “discard the original parts of their identity in order to become socially mobile”, explains Erica Southgate from the University of Newcastle in Australia. She has studied the stigmas faced by individuals who are the first in their family to reach higher education. She found that in subjects such as medicine, there’s a prevailing assumption from classmates that everyone comes from a similar social background. “It wasn’t so much overt stigma, but the hidden injuries of social class that kept emerging – people kept having to explain themselves.”

即便一名来自蓝领家庭的学生最终考入大学,他们往往也必须"抛弃其原先身份,从而适合新的社会流动",澳大利亚纽卡斯尔大学的艾丽卡·索斯盖特(Erica Southgate)表示。她研究了那些家庭中头一个考上大学的学生面临的歧视问题。她发现对于医学等学科,学生们普遍认为同学们都来自于社会背景类似的家庭。"这并非明显的歧视,而是一种不断出现的隐形的社会阶层伤害,因为来自不同家庭背景的学生会不停的向人解释。"

So, what could help overcome the education divide? One view is that different ways of scoring tests could help even the playing field. In several studies, Butera’s team showed that giving children graded tests or exam scores actually reduces motivation and performance in reasoning and decision making. If there are no graded scores it also reduces social comparison, which we know can often negatively affect performance, as Sheehy-Skeffington’s work revealed.

那么,如何才能填平教育鸿沟?有一种观点认为,多样化的考试评测方法可以帮助给大家创造一个公平的环境。布特拉的研究小组进行的几项实验发现,评定学生考试成绩事实上会削弱学生的推理动机,表现以及决策能力。但如果不公布考试成绩,则会削弱社会比较的意义,正如詹妮弗的研究揭示,这常常会导致成绩表现下降。

If detailed feedback on how to improve is given instead of simple graded scores, it helps “focus on assessment as a tool for education” rather than assessment for selection, Butera argues. In other words, children learn to further their knowledge, rather than learn to do well on tests.

如果给出如何提高进步的详细反馈而非简单的得分,就会"把考试评估作为教育的一种手段"而非筛选的手段,布特拉表示。换句话说,学生将学到如何增长知识,而非如何应付考试的方法。

“Our team has shown that one viable solution is to create a classroom environment where assessment is part of the learning process,” says Butera. “This appears to reduce social class and gender inequalities, and promote a culture of solidarity and cooperation.”

"我们的小组已经发现了一个可行的解决方案:创造一个课堂环境,考试评估只是其学习过程的一部分,"布特拉表示。"这会促进社会阶层和性别之间更加平等,并有助于建设一种团结协作的社会文化。"

Some alternative schools place less emphasis on exams, such as the Montessori, Steiner and Freinet schools, while in Finland there are no standardised tests in primary schools. These examples are in the minority and not to everyone’s taste. Many parents want to see grades, and without them it can be hard to assess how children are doing. “Here in Switzerland they abolished grades in one place but there was an uprising mainly due to parents who all of a sudden couldn’t figure out how their kids were doing,” says Butera.

一些非体制内的学校比较不看重考试,例如蒙特梭利(Montessori,)、斯坦纳(Steiner)和弗雷内(Freinet)等学校,而芬兰小学则没有标准化考试。这些案例都属于少数情况,并不符合大多数人的要求。多数父母都希望能看到子女的分数,没有分数就很难判定学生学习情况的好坏。"瑞士有一个地方取消了学生分数,而父母们在突然间无法获知子女学习状况后,就发起了反抗,"布特拉说。

For Fusarelli, the most important thing is for both parents and teachers to expect the best from children at a young age to reinforce the idea that “they can do this and succeed”.

在福萨雷利看来,最重要的是让父母和教师都在儿童年幼时对他们的未来充满期望,并且强化这种观点:"他们能做这个而且将会获得成功"。

“If you have low expectations of the kids they'll sink to the level of expectations,” he says. A study has even shown that low-income students do worse when teachers expect them do to badly in maths, reading and vocabulary. That’s why he tells prospective low-income students to “trust your ability and believe you belong”.

"如果你对孩子期望值很低,那么他们就会成长为你期望的那样,"他说。还有一项研究甚至发现,如果当教师认为来自低收入家庭的学生不会在数学、阅读和词汇方面取得好成绩,他们的最终成绩甚至会低于教师的预计。由此,他一直告诉来自低收入家庭的有潜力的学生:"相信你的能力和拥有的一切"。

Of course, biases in the education system won’t go away overnight. What’s worse is that most of us don’t realise that these biases exist. The meritocratic attitude that hard workers will succeed is still pervasive, despite evidence to show that many factors beyond an individual’s control can hinder potential.

当然,教育体系中的歧视不会在一夜之间消失殆尽。悲哀的是,大多数人都没有意识到这种歧视的存在。"勤奋的人终将成功"这种说法仍然大有市场,虽然有证据显示,超出个人控制的众多因素往往会阻碍人们取得成功的潜力。

And unfortunately, it is those who are better educated, and who should be sensitive to discrimination, who can benefit – often unknowingly – from the very inequality they helped to create.

不幸的是,偏偏是那些教育水平更高,理应对歧视更为敏感的人群往往在不知不觉间帮助造就了不公平并从中获益。

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