What do you consider when addressing implicit bias at your school?
I have spent seven years in the Middle East in the small country of Bahrain. In any new place we begin to call home we learn of new explicit and implicit biases the community holds onto. Coming in as an outsider, the subtle biases are easier to recognize than the ones I grew up with and are so deeply embedded inside. However, there are still universal biases I know are in myself and others based on age, race, ability, nationality, health.
When I stop to re-read the question, I see something I hadn’t noticed before, “What do I consider…” That got me thinking again. It’s imperative for me to consider the fact that implicit bias in me and other people is implicit–it’s unconsciously there, so I need to explore my own biases, making them part of my conscious thinking. To bring it to the forefront, so I can at least begin to deal with it. Even that though, I might say that I believe in justice for all and equality, but unconsciously I don’t realize that the system and I are enforcing different values.
The same process of exposing biases can help my students and colleagues navigate and find their unconscious biases and bring them into their consciousness so they can deal with them. I can ask questions and invite a safe discussion place to help others explore their feelings that may get in the way of them treating people as individuals, each with their own right to equity and justice.
- Tell me more about that.
- How did it make you feel?
- How do you think it makes the other person feel?
- If that happened to you, how would you feel?
- Why might that person have done or said what they did?
- How can we better understand each other?
As a teacher, I need to be more aware and passionate about standing against explicit biases, the small acts and comments that show up in my classroom. They are teachable moments, and I need to make sure students know that someone is noticing and challenging their biases.
Just some thoughts today. It was a good prompt, Penny, and I will revisit the topic before school starts in the fall.