Introduction to Group Talk

Introduction to Group Talk


Does schooltalk about “types of kids” help us pursue equity or not?  It depends on whether we’re using labels to support young people. So as equity designers, our first task is to get in the habit of asking that very question. Keep asking when labels for “types of kids” enable student support, and when they get in the way.

Does this label use seem to support equity (the full human talent development of every student, and all groups of students), or not?


Make a list of some of the labels you've heard used in a school community you know well. Now use our Equity Line to consider a couple of them. Do you have any gut feelings about which help and which harm? (What seems to characterize a helpful label? A harmful one? Is it all in how labels are used?)

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Featured Resource

How Real is Race? A Sourcebook on Race, Culture, and Biology, by Carol C. Mukhopadhyay, Rosemary Henze, and Yolanda T. Moses, is worth a look! We all need to be equipped to explain how race categories were made by people. As I put it in Colormute, race categories are a social reality built on a biological fiction.

As I discuss in Chapter 1 of Schooltalk, many people don’t know one critical fact essential to equity effort: that genetically speaking, there aren't valid "racial" subgroups to the human species. We just have long treated each other as if there are, creating deep inequalities and real human experiences we now need to describe and address in schools. In this most extreme example of creating “types of people,” Europeans and European-Americans imagined human “races” as fundamentally different subtypes to the human species and organized centuries of resource distribution around that myth, fundamentally shaping contemporary inequality (including in schools) and creating a slew of harmful myths still requiring our attention as equity designers. Today, taking charge of race labels is particularly key to schooltalking for equity. Supporting young people requires both explicitly challenging these false and devaluing ideas about types of people, and recognizing our real and powerful experiences in a racialized world.

I offer a "gallop through 600 years of history" in Chapter 1 of Schooltalk to discuss all this. Check out pp 55-58 of Schooltalk if you’re trying to debunk the myth that our variations in appearance indicate that we are fundamentally different types of people on the inside!