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The modern world tends to increasingly pay attention to biases that exist in the field of education. In spite of the growing efforts, the situation remains complicated and unresolved, causing some distorted images of particular groups of students. In her article, Fiarman (2016) uncovers the issue of unconscious bias that she, being an active promoter of diversity and equality, had to experience in her own class. The article explores how implicit biases impact both a person who has a biased image of someone or something and an object of bias and how they can be addressed.
Deconstruction of Author’s Key Argument
The key education issue raised in the article refers to unconscious racism. The author provides a convincing example, stating that the recent research showed the predisposition of teachers to be more loyal to white students in comparison to their African American peers. Such a situation appears every day and involves plenty of educational aspects, including communication with students and their families, punishment for misbehavior, feedback, and so on. The key point is that it happens unintentionally even with those teachers whose beliefs contradict racism. Therefore, it if great importance to explore the situation and come up with the relevant solution, thus facilitating the present form of racism.
To address the identified challenge, Fiarman (2016) suggests implementing a multi-level solution that focuses on increasing awareness of the problem, naming it, anticipating bias and developing systems to decrease it, building empathy, and staying accountable. Let us consider each of the mentioned points in brief. The first point of awareness increasing implies that “school leaders need to help their staffs understand that unconscious bias is not deliberate; it doesn’t reflect our goals and intentions” (Fiarman, 2016, p. 12). It is important to talk about this issue openly and clearly to achieve an understanding of every staff member. Various resources can be useful to support the above process. For instance, unconscious bias training materials elaborated by Microsoft or Google can be applied to practice. Certain time and efforts are required to implement this strategy and promote subsequent self-monitoring.
Furthermore, the author emphasizes the necessity to name bias, which means that staff members should collaborate and pinpoint the so-called blind spots of each other in an appropriate manner, avoiding any misconceptions. The honest exchange of feedback promoted by school leaders increases the potential to eliminate bias. In other words, it is necessary to speak of the problem out loud on meetings with parents, social workers, and in class. The next point of anticipation is likely to help in designing systems to reduce bias. The author provides the following example with orchestra: they built “blind” auditions when women female candidates protruded behind the scene. This initiative allowed increasing the percent of women in orchestra from six to 21 within 23 years. Empathy is another essential tool to address educational bias by transforming negative perceptions into positive ones. At this point, the example provided by the author explains that in case teachers reflect on the perspectives of their students and also associate them with study purposes, it becomes easier to create unbiased attitudes. Ultimately, continuous surveys of students’ perceptions show the levels of bias and indicate the effectiveness of the implemented interventions.
Evaluation of the Author’s Argument
Assessing the identified article in the context of the course readings, one may note that it emphasizes the role of multicultural education in the classroom environment. It states that regardless of sex, age, and race, students are to be treated equally. Most importantly, Fiarman (2016) promotes an in-depth understanding of the issue as unconscious biases are much more difficult to identify and address compared to personal beliefs and attitudes. Banks and Banks (2016) claim that multicultural education is able to “reduce prejudice and discrimination against oppressed groups to work toward equal opportunity and social justice for all groups, and to effect an equitable distribution of power among members of the different cultural groups” (p. 66). In its turn, the author of the article supports the above point of view, stating that the collaborative work of staff, timely feedback, and empathy can create a fair attitude towards African American students.
The strategy for reforming the educational opportunities in the diverse class that was specified in the article goes in line with those of the course materials. In particular, both of the sources focus on a comprehensive approach to the problem that should embrace not only teachers but also students, their parents, social workers, and other interested parties. Only collaborative efforts can enhance the situation as it contributes to awareness, anticipation, and fair education opportunities and perceptions. Thus, it is possible to argue that the issue of unconscious bias in education is critical to diverse education and highlighted by the current literature and media.
To conclude, it should be noted that the strategy identified in the discussed article can be rather beneficial to inequality and unconscious bias elimination. It is likely to benefit both teachers and students, providing them with tools to handle the situation. At the same time, the relevance of the article is proved by practice and the course materials.
Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. (2016). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Fiarman, S. E. (2016). Unconscious bias: When good intentions aren’t enough. Education Leadership, 74(3), 10-15.