So this is my second blog post but my first proper reflection post. We had a lecture on Social injustices and the biases within our culture in the morning and then the seminar in the afternoon. I have to say the morning lecture did knock me sideways a little bit as I was not expecting to be basically called homophobic at 9 o’clock on a Tuesday morning. However, it was that initial shock that really made me think. The Unconscious Bias was a running theme throughout the lecture and it was the definition that really stuck with me: “Regardless of how fair minded we believe ourselves to be, most people have some degree of unconscious bias. The means that we automatically respond to other (e.g. people from different racial or ethnic groups) in positive or negative ways.” (Equality Challenge Unit, 2013, p1). I realised that I hadn’t recognised what had been going on in my own mind and it took an impowering and moving speech from Panti Noble for me to see. I realised that in normal society the unconscious bias is not recognised- as it says- it’s unconscious. People are oblivious to what is actually going on. In my case this lack of awareness was highlighted in the task we were set in the seminar.
We were separated into 4 groups. A random selection, groups being chosen purely based on where you sat. Each group was given a task and one envelope to complete said task. Unbeknownst to the whole class, our lecturer had given two groups envelopes with less and inefficient items to complete the task. In my case, I was given one of the more affluent envelopes. During the presentation part of the task, it came to my attention that there was a feeling of disadvantage within two of the groups due to their lack of resources. When it was revealed to us by our lecturer that there were two groups given a considerable amount of resources less than the others, I realised I hadn’t clocked onto the inequality that had gone on right in front of me. Groups 3 and 4 (the “less affluent” groups) went onto explain how the behaviour of the lecturer and the negative feedback and body language he presented to them made them feel. As they talked, I realised that I hadn’t picked up on any of his negativity towards these groups. Like the unconscious biases within culture and people, I had become oblivious to the inequalities of the teaching setting. I am not going to lie to you, it got to me a little bit because I have always seen myself as someone who is quite perceptive and can pick up on people’s social ques easily, however I had been just shown that I was as unaware of my own unconscious bias as I was of inequalities within a situation. As a teacher, you should be seeing what other people may or may not see and so by not picking up on the inequality, I felt like I had almost failed before I had begun.
In reflection, I have concluded that people may be unable or be unwilling to recognise that there ways of combating the biases within society. As a teacher, we have to be both aware of the backgrounds children from and how that may effect their confidence and future with their own abilities. We also have to tackle any pre-existing stereotypes or preconceptions about a child do not effect their learning and your relationship with the child. In many ways, teaching is about building positive relationships with pupils in order to build a positive member of society. Through the workshop, it reiterates to me that all children must be treated the same no matter the unconscious bias that may be there. So therefore to combat this, we need to neutralise ourselves and our feelings in order to level the teaching ground.
Reference: Equality Challenge Unit (2013) Unconscious Bias and Higher Education London: Equality Challenge Unit Available at: http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/unconscious-bias-in-higher-education/ (23th September 2018)