I read the post by @nasik1988 today where he said he felt unqualified to write about unconscious bias because he had not really experienced it directly. As I read his words, my head began to nod. I realised that I am (luckily I know) in the same boat.
I have led what I consider to be a privileged life and I count my blessings because despite the usual 'life' set backs I have had to deal with, on the whole my careers (yes 2 of them to date) have been what I consider to be full of challenges, learning and experience which have all served to strengthen who I am.
What then, I asked myself, can I bring to this digimeet? I thought for a long time about this and then it occurred to me. It’s not just about this digimeet. It’s about every day. It’s about my role as an educator. Our roles as educators. It's about what we do to re-educate and ensure that the future becomes a place where these issues are gone. Idealistic? I know I am - but some of us have to be - we have to aim high don't we?!
I thought about the children that I have the pleasure to educate. Every single one is an individual in their own right. Many of us come from different cultures, have different beliefs and experience life differently every day to each other. My own upbringing would be alien to many of the children I teach but that’s OK. That is the key. It’s OK for me to be different; for you to be different; for them to be different; all of us to be different. My children teach me something new about themselves every day. They are not afraid of their differences. We educate them in an environment that teaches them to feel confident of who they are.
That’s the beauty of our role. If we challenge our own unconscious bias and our own mindsets, what we can achieve is limitless because it sets a level playing field for all. It starts, as Naz rightly says, with respect. We can not force anyone to learn. What we can do however is facilitate a place where who they are is not a barrier to what they can achieve. That I think is the key.
Our future is continually changing. We do not know who will be the Prime Minister in 2057. Let’s face it, we do not know if there will even be the need for a Prime Minister! What we do need to do as educators is set the scene to enable all of our students to achieve, fearless of the things that make them different to others. It is those things that most likely will bring their successes to fruition for it is those things that make them who they are.
As educators, don't we need to start by making it safe for 'different'? We can make a start can't we?