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Lesson Plans

All the curricular materials are organized around seven core questions. For each of them there is at least one lesson plan. Lesson plans are linked, whenever appropriate, to the resources page.

CORE QUESTION 1: What are stereotypes?


The goal is to familiarize students with the concept of stereotype. Students are asked to give their own definitions of stereotypes and important related concepts such as prejudice and discrimination. Their definitions are then compared with dictionary definitions (see GLOSSARY/DEFINITIONS) and differences are discussed. Teachers help students to demonstrate that stereotypes are widely used in various social contexts.


This unit offers four lesson plans. A teacher can use any or all of them, depending on need and time.

Additional lesson plans are available from: An Integrated Unit on Cultural Stereotyping (From Teaching Units on Individual and Society in East Asia, Oregon International Council, pp.39-48). See Resources for a brief description.

CORE QUESTION 2: Where do stereotypes come from? Why are they so difficult to challenge, modify, and abandon?


Several lesson plans related to this core question deal with the omnipresence of stereotypes and demonstrate that they are very difficult to challenge and modify because we find them to be such useful "short-cuts" for our thinking. Moreover, they are often produced and propagated by powerful institutions (governments, churches) or influential individuals or groups and can be thus pervasive in popular culture.


Where do they come from? Browse the archives at an excellent site for asking questions regarding stereotypes, or browse the questions and responses already posted.

2.1. Cartoon - Truth or Tale.

2.2. How to identify stereotypes? How to explain their pervasiveness and durability?

2.3. Demonstration of pervasiveness of stereotypes.

CORE QUESTION 3: How to define and deal with religious stereotypes?


In a world of increasing diversity, the world's religions reflect the geographic, social, racial, linguistic, and ethnic differences of the Earth's population. For some groups, religion represents a major dividing line between "Us and Them" and plays a critical role in how individuals and groups define themselves. Religion has been a source of both great good and great conflict. By examining the role of stereotypes in religion, we can gain a better sense how people define themselves and the "others" and how many social and cultural conflicts emerge..


3.1. Stereotypes and religion (plan for several class periods).

CORE QUESTION 4: How are stereotypes connected to the achievement and maintenance of political power and social inequality?


Stereotypes are closely linked to power and inequality. The powerful employ them as yet another tool of subjugation and dominance; the powerless may rely on them in their struggle for power. Stereotypes are also closely linked to social stratification: each class or group tends to develop a series of simplified images of other groups or classes. Such stereotypical images not only help to place one's group on the social map; they often serve to define and justify the group's dominant or subordinate position.


4.1. Stereotypes and colonialism: "Tribe" as a negative stereotype. The Zambian case.

4.2. Gender stereotypes: Ethnic/Gender Stereotypes in children's programming

Women's Suffrage Movement PowerPoint Station Activity (Microsoft Word Document)
Women's Suffrage Movement PowerPoint

4.3. Class stereotypes:

4.4. Race stereotypes:

4.5. Ethnic stereotypes: Arabs.

4.6. Ethnic stereotypes: Asian Americans.

4.7. Ethnic stereotypes: American Indians.

CORE QUESTION 5: Why are stereotypes particularly dangerous in inter-group conflicts?


Stereotypes have been employed in almost all known violent conflicts. They are useful tools of mobilizing the troops and dehumanizing the enemy. Since stereotypes can invoke very powerful emotions, once they are employed to degrade and dehumanize another group of people, they contribute to the intractability and viciousness of many conflicts. Their effects can be lasting and difficult to reverse.


5.1. Stereotypes in war and revolutionary propaganda (Power Point presentation)

5.2. Self-stereotypes and conflict.

CORE QUESTION 6: Why are stereotypes harmful, ethically, socially, and economically?


The ethical impropriety of religious, ethnic, gender or racial stereotypes is beyond dispute: by dehumanizing other human beings we debase our own humanity. It is, however, important to realize that stereotypes also impede effective communication in business, politics, or even everyday contacts. It has been demonstrated over and over again that by avoiding stereotypes and treating our partners as individual human beings we can improve economic effectiveness and prevent many conflicts from developing or escalating.


6.1. The Deimler-Chrysler deal: a comedy of errors.

6.2. Stereotypes, business and free market.

6.3. The Polish Round Table of 1989: overcoming the stereotypes of communism and anti-communism.

The authors of an article that may serve as a background material for all lessons in this unit, make an interesting attempt to demonstrate that holding stereotypes actually hurts academic performance of those who ... hold stereotypes. See:

CORE QUESTION 7: How can stereotypes be overcome?


Over the last 20-30 years research on stereotypes has gone through a period of rapid expansion. In particular, very interesting and useful work has been done on various strategies and methods of overcoming stereotypes. This unit should help students to learn how to overcome or, at least minimize reliance on stereotypes. Such a skill this seems necessary if we are to improve both our personal lives as well as our collective life in the globalizing world. Several useful links to comprehensive web sites dealing with overcoming stereotypes are provided.


7.1. Using any of the materials found in the Internet Resources section 2.5 found at the link on the Resources page of this module will provide educational materials on studying and combating stereotypes design various class activities.

7.2. Overcoming stereotypes and peaceful resolution of conflict: the end of communism in Poland.

A very useful description and analysis of stereotype braking actions can be found a at a University of Colorado website. Materials available on this site can be used as a background readings (particularly for teachers) for any of the lesson plans in this unit.

To learn more about the influence of Stereotypes on our global society, click on the links below:
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