Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Being biased against bias

The following is from an email I sent to my aunt, who is an elementary school teacher.

Dear 5-ee, (NB: My aunt Lynne May is the 5th of 8 girls; we call our aunts by number.)

Small note of curiosity.

I was wandering the Teaching For Change website (www.teachingforchange.org) and it says they've got "anti-bias children's books."

Is that possible? Anti-bias anything?

I think that anything a human writes or says is going to have some bias or another. It's impossible to move biases completely; the best thing we can do is to be conscious of it and openly state it. Knowing what biases exist and how they affect things is better than pretending we've gotten rid of them all, but to be anti-bias is to be... biased against bias. If we're really tolerant, shouldn't we tolerate intolerance?

It seems to me that sometimes when people attempt to remove bias, they end up creating more bias, just of a different kind that they don't recognize as such. I'm thinking of this mostly in the context of elementary education and how you teach kids these sorts of things.

Anyhow, idle meanderings from someone who should stop procrastinating on her Anthropology assignment. Back to work.


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