This amazing book, subtitled How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do, takes its title from a story that Brent Staples (now a NY Times columnist but then a University of Chicago psychology graduate student), told about an experience he had as a young African American man walking around in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. White people were looking at him anxiously, some even crossing the street to avoid him, and out of nervousness, he began to whistle. And when people heard him whistling classical music—Vivaldi’s Four Seasons—they relaxed and actually smiled at him. They no longer saw him as a threat.
In WHISTLING VIVALDI, social psychologist Claude Steele sheds light on how “stereotype threat” affects us all—from women taking math tests to black students anxious to do well in college to white men faced with the prospect of having a conversation on a racially-charged topic. Steele explains ground-breaking research (much of it his own) that explores how stereotypes shape our identity and often limit us in ways we might not even realize. But he doesn’t stop there. He also provides helpful strategies for combatting these challenges and closing achievement gaps. This book is both stunning and hopeful.
If you are an educator, no matter where you work, you will want to read this ASAP.