Examining the Sources of Bias in Education
It’s difficult to overcome prejudice. It can be found in almost every facet of society and everyone. Some people work hard to recognize and overcome their biases, while others remain unconcerned. Bias influences what we seek in sources and what we believe and do. It might manifest itself in seemingly benign ways, such as liking a restaurant owned by a family member or friend, or it can manifest itself in widespread and harmful viewpoints, such as racism.
The Various Types of Bias
While bias can manifest itself in a variety of ways, the following are some of the more typical ones that individuals fall prey to:
Confirmation Bias- The subconscious desire/act of searching out information or sources that strengthen our previously held beliefs while ignoring or disregarding opposing viewpoints.
The Bandwagon Effect, also known as “Groupthink,” occurs when a significant section of a group thinks something and the remaining individuals agree, generally without a thorough examination of the viewpoint, simply because most others believe it.
Affinity Bias- When people interact (talk, read, listen, etc.) with others they think they have a lot in common with, whether it is because they share the same skin color, hometown, institution, political/religious beliefs, etc., they are more likely to agree with or support that person because they feel a sense of belonging.
While there are many different sorts of biases, these three are the most common and influence many of our daily interactions.
The Basis Of Bias
Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt researched the origins of racial bias and published her findings in her book “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do.” She noted plainly in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) that kids as young as three months prefer the faces of their race.
This is an example of “implicit bias,” which is developed by early life experiences and communications, both direct and indirect, and the types of media, games, etc., those young children are exposed to as they grow up. Implicit bias influences how people perceive age, weight, politics, impairments, sexuality, religion, and many other factors.
When it comes to prejudice, educators play an essential role. Educators are encouraged not to let personal biases, particularly political and religious biases, play a role in the classroom to provide a neutral learning environment, but they are also told to allow for the expression and discussion of other points of view. It combats numerous biases (such as the three stated above).
This is important for young children and adults to experience and be placed in a position to fight with and overcome their prejudices, or at the very least admit them.
Bias is a fact of life. While no one can ever be entirely free of prejudice, the first step is to recognize that people are not flawless and that various reasons influence why individuals think or believe what they do. Educators play an essential role in eliminating the curtain that children may unknowingly grow up behind.