Digging into Implicit Bias

Dear Colleagues,

The field of social psychology is a fascinating one. Many thoughtful psychological studies over the past few decades have demonstrated how easily our thoughts and actions can defy our own self-conception as neutral, rational, bias-free individuals. Researchers have discovered these “mind-tricks” through innovative psychological experiments in human behavior.

In my view, these studies are exciting (rather than intimidating) in part because they offer not simply challenges but solutions, both meta-cognitive and strategic, to overcome what researchers have long termed “implicit bias.” There are all sorts of benefits that accrue from exploration of this topic; as professionals, we can relate much more thoughtfully to current and prospective students, colleagues, and parents, not to mention other constituencies within our larger community. It’s no surprise to me that an increasing number of organizations, including K-12 schools and colleges, explore implicit bias as a key component of professional development.

We at Gann are in a particularly advantageous position to explore implicit bias. Not only does work on implicit bias strengthen our initiatives in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; it also comports very well with our character study groups. Soul-traits such as humility and compassion prepare us emotionally and psychologically for growth in our relationships with others. The daily practice of a soul-trait gives us a useful model for how routinely to incorporate these anti-bias tools into our professional work.

For these reasons, I invite all returning Gann professionals to read an introductory book on the topic: Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People. I think that everyone will find the book an enjoyable summer read. At our August in-service, we will spend some time discussing the book’s themes and arguments, and then pivot into a deeper dive during the 2018-2019 academic year.

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Field Notes

Phillips and Henderson, who previously taught in high schools, have been blown away by their pupils’ rave reviews. Students, without any solicitation, have been emailing them to praise the videos for their clarity and encouragement. “In our combined 25 years of experience,” Phillips says, “we never got responses like that.”

Daisy Yuhas. WQED/Mindshift (via Hechinger Report). How Giving Students Feedback Through Video Instead of Text Can Foster Better Understanding.