STUDY: Politically-correct millennials are putting on an act

A recent study conducted by a Grand Valley State University professor suggests that political correctness, at least among millennials, is little more than a charade.

In an August 16 study, Professor Karen Pezzetti explains that millennials pursuing careers in education “position themselves as good, non-racist people,” but in many cases may just be going through the motions of using “politically correct” terminology to “talk about students from diverse backgrounds.”

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Pezzetti discovered the paradox after conducting extensive interviews with 60 mostly-white, female students in her teacher education courses, noting that their “endorsements of diversity did not extend to appreciation of the potential racial diversity.”

While virtually all participants in the study “voiced abstract commitments to diversity,” Pezzetti reports that most “brought up the diversity of their future students as the issue they were most concerned about,” expressing apprehensions that they would find themselves unable to “deal with” students from different backgrounds.

One respondent, for instance, worried that teaching students in a struggling urban community “would be challenging” because it would require “new teaching styles,” while another worried that it would be difficult to teach a class with racially diverse students because “not everyone agrees to the same thing or has the same values and morals.”  

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Pezzetti chalks this discrepancy up to the “savvy” ability of younger generations to speak the language of inclusivity without internalizing its tenets, speculating that

“Prospective teachers born after 1985 (Millennials) and 1995 (Generation Z) may simply have learned to participate in an educational discourse that only purports to eschew racism and value diversity,” she speculates. “In other words, perhaps these young prospective teachers do not actually have more positive attitudes towards children from backgrounds that differ from their own, but are simply more savvy (or politically correct) about the ways they talk about students from diverse backgrounds.”

While she concedes that “this research suggests that teacher education discourses about celebrating diversity might inhibit genuine discussion of the real challenges that white teachers may face when working with students who come from diverse backgrounds,” Pezzetti nonetheless concludes on a hopeful note, saying that even “superficial appreciation of diversity” offers “a glimmer of hope.”

Campus Reform reached out to Pezzetti for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen