Teachers judging students by their names

I’ve read articles, mostly those from the UK, about how some teachers automatically assume that kids with certain names will be troublemakers. I was on another name board, and some of the users agreed with these teachers! Most of them assumed that kids with names associated with lower-class people were troublemakers.

I admit I dislike a lot of “trashy” names, but I’ve known people with such names who did not fit the stereotype.

[name]Do[/name] you think it’s wrong to judge someone by their name alone?

Yes, i think thats wrong. But I also think that everyone automatically judge someone based on their name. If you know several Toms that you hate, you are going to think the next [name]Tom[/name] is also a bad boy.

I do think its OK to make a first impression based on the name, as long as you are willing to make that vision change when you have met the kid and know who s/he really is.

Believing that a child is a “troublemaker” on account of his name is like believing in voo-doo.

– [name]Nephele[/name]

I think people do judge the parent’s socio-econmic background based on names though. Like if I knew a [name]Jane[/name] and a Jaynelyn I would probably think the [name]Jane[/name] came from a wealthier home.

As a preschool teacher, I can say that we do talk amoungst ourselves about the childrens names, and might compare this [name]Emily[/name] to that [name]Emily[/name], especially if two very different children share a more unique name. I have also been turned off names because I associate them with certain children (my husband gets so annoyed when I nix a name because “I used to have a so-and-so, and they were a booger eatter”).
But I would hate to think that anyone would be so unprofessional as to judge a child based on something that is so completely out of their control as their name! At worst, maybe you wonder what the parents were thinking, but I would never assume that a child will behave a certain way because they happen to have a certain name. I’ve had a [name]Damien[/name] who was a joy to have around, and a Naveah who wasn’t, and everything in between.

Years ago I was a student teacher in a kindergarten in a suburb of L.A. My master teacher was talking to the afternoon teacher about a boy named [name]Patrick[/name]. They didn’t like his name and wrinkled up their noses over it. They said “[name]Patrick[/name]” in a very condescending way.
I had another student teaching assignment with a 3rd grade teacher. She didn’t like a boy in her class because his name was [name]Maximillian[/name].
My mother-in-law was a teacher. She hated a bunch of names. If a student had one of the hated names, she automatically didn’t like them.
Of course, not all teachers are like the ones I’ve mentioned. [name]Both[/name] of my young adult children had many wonderful teachers. I think some teachers don’t like certain names. But they overcome their dislike and have an open mind for each new student.

As a 9th grade teacher, I’ll tell you that it’s kinda true and kinda not. I scour my class lists, and wonder about this kid or that kid. I am definitely open to letting them change my opinion, even on the first day of school. :slight_smile: I mean, when I had Macheala a few years ago, I guessed what kind of girl she was, and I was right! (Lower class, into trouble, sad family story) When I had an [name]Emerald[/name], I was right about her too (hip, fun, artistic). And when I have an [name]Andrew[/name]/[name]Drew[/name] or a [name]Justin[/name], I shudder and pray they aren’t like all the rest (although they usually are). I don’t let the kids know what I’m thinking, and they can often change my opinion on a name, but I do judge a bit.

Would any of you teachers or former teachers be interested in writing a guest blog on your experiences re name perceptions about your students?

I’m a (relatively new) teacher, too. I have had a few names that make me think “really?”, but more questioning what the parents were thinking or wondering if there’s some significance behind the name/spelling. Also, since I teach grade 11/12 I often wonder about some “nickname” names on my roster… I do tend to find out by report card time what the birth certificate name is, since in my province the report cards have to be in the legal names. Sometimes I meet kids who seem to be named well ahead of the curve (such as a 19-year old [name]Eden[/name]. I nearly jumped for joy!).

Also, I’m at a fairly multi-cultural school. Being a name nerd I’m more concerned about learning correct pronunciations than the socio-economic background of my students. When you deal with names that are far out of your own culture, you tend to lack those associations anyways!

I was student teacher at a poor, mostly african american school where names ranged from [name]Michael[/name] and [name]Anthony[/name] to such gems as [name]Princess[/name], twins K’langelo and D’mangelo, Jurnee, Hsernay Moo, and twins [name]Albany[/name] and [name]Aloysius[/name]. I found that being in an enviornment where most children have unusual names lessens the teasing. It also lowers your threshold of what’s weird and what’s not.