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The “Black Male Low Expectation Syndrome” - Proposal to Save the Next Black Male Generation!!!

The “Black Male Low Expectation Syndrome” – How Should America Design a Learning Solution to Save a Seemingly Lost Generation of Young Black American Males?

By Pete Lorins - Multi-industry consultant (engineering, law, instructional design and business)

Brief Description of the Problem:

Modernly, a great percentage of young Black males are either academically-disengaged or unmotivated to learn whether they are extrinsically-motivated learners or extrinsically-motivated learners. In fact, even the most gifted young Black males are choosing not to participate in gifted programs. Needless to say, the average young Black male is even worse off as indicated by their attrition and incarceration rates. Indeed, this is a culture that has become so pervasive among young Black males that there is condition that I will call “the Black-male-low-expectation” syndrome. It is a ‘syndrome’ that is resonating in every fiber of the beings of too many young Black American males, and that of their guardians, their teachers/instructors, and often even their own parents. It is not only a Black problem, but it is also a societal and, indeed, a monumental American problem.

Brief Description of Relevant Characteristics that are Appropriate for the Identified Learning Need:

A great percentage of young Black males are not performing academically. In fact, even the most gifted of Black males are choosing not to participate in gifted programs. According to Grantham (2004), an increased body of research on the recruitment and retention of Black students in gifted programs provides guidance for educators to understand factors that impact Black male underrepresentation in gifted programs. A common concern among high school educators is that schools cannot keep Black males interested in gifted programs. Even in culturally diverse high schools, gifted Black males often do not want to take advanced level classes because they are accused by peers of "acting White". Using findings from interview and archival data, Grantham (2004) was able to inform us of a model student named Rocky Jones who had begged to differ. Implications are drawn to enhance teachers' efforts to increase Black males' motivation and representation in gifted education. The primary goal of this study was to explore Black males' motivation to participate in gifted and advanced level programs using a single case-study approach. This study is interesting because instead of approaching the problem from the bottom, the problem was approached from the top with the aspiring and audacious desire of having young Black males achieve their true potentials - particularly those who have the talent to do so. In other words, can we have more exemplary young Black males out there who would be willing to beat the odds? In his case study, Grantham (2004) concluded that the underrepresentation of Black males in gifted education has been a long-standing problem, and remains one of the most unresolved issues in education. Nationally, Black males fail to reach their potential because of numerous influences on their motivation to participate in gifted programs. But educators should not give up on the gifted Black males who choose to participate in gifted and advanced classes because of the low expectation that others might have induced them to have of Black males at large.

A Statement of the Learning Goal Resulting from the Learning Need:

To develop an Instructivist-Constructivist problem-solving approach that will allow young Black males to tap into their true potentials without feeling like they are “acting White”. Such an approach will encourage Black males to continue to be themselves while changing their mindsets and attitudes to incorporate self-discipline, key cognitive and attitudinal skills and of course, higher expectations. Moreover, it would have to do the same on the part of their parents and educators as to create a perfect symbiotic relationship that would allow society at large to expect and embrace a modern young Black male who aspires to assimilate, learn, compete and contribute.

The Type of Learning that the Learning Goal Represents:

This learning goal will incorporate a blend of cognitive strategies, problem-solving and attitude-modifying skills, which will assist young Black males, their guardians, educators, friends and even employers to assist along in such a monumental and audacious endeavor.

The parents that have managed to raise well-behaved Black males can often attribute it to many factors (e.g., a natural predisposition from an exceptional young man who happens to be Black, great role models, supportive parents, great environment or just pure divine intervention.) Indeed, many have failed to mention this problem while they focus on other aspects of society with the resignation that Black men will go into sports or entertainment as opposed to science, engineering, law, architecture, education or medicine. We cannot expect every child to be in those noble fields. However, it is unconscionable to expect them to be only in sports and entertainment or in jail. We can save the next Black male generation if we (our government and our advocacy group really care about them enough to make it a priority. The question is, do we? While we talk about race and all other factors, this problem lingers. It's a big problem because without strong level-headed Black males, the Black family structure will continue to dwindle away, and the cycle of dependency will persist. Is this the American dream or way? I don't think so!


Grantham, T.C. (2004). Rocky Jones: Case study of a high-Achieving Black male's motivation to

participate in gifted classes. Roeper Review, 26(4), 208. Retrieved from

Dr. Lorins is the Chief Editor of and this article is sponsored by

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