Benchmarks for Science Literacy: Chapter 15 THE RESEARCH BASE



As children try to understand biological and social phenomena, they often overgeneralize information about racial and cultural differences. One must be cautious, however, not to assume that children are prejudiced or deliberately using stereotypes when they overgeneralize. They may simply be thinking typically for young children trying to make sense out of their limited experience with other groups (Ramsey, 1986). Research indicates that stereotypic attitudes begin to develop about 7th grade (Stone, 1986).

Research supports the view that lower elementary-school children are aware of some of the many ways in which rules vary. For example, children agree that some rules in their culture are more important than others and that some rules are more universally right than others. In addition, children are aware of the social function of different kinds of rules (Edwards, 1986). They may go through alternating developmental periods of "affirming" versus "negating" social conventions (Turiel, 1983). Only near the end of middle school and the beginning of high school do students start to accept the need for social conventions to facilitate social interactions in their groups (Mackey, 1991).