Human Rights Graduate Program Institute for Humane Education

8 Resources for Teaching About Unconscious Bias

by Marsha Rakestraw

We all have biases.

We’ve heard many times that those biases are an evolutionary adaptation that helped us survive, but even after these thousands of years, we haven’t yet learned to recognize and overcome many of our unconscious (and conscious) biases related to race, gender, disability, age, geography, and even species.

Research shows that unconscious bias is prevalent in schools and that teachers demonstrate implicit bias even with children as young as preschool age.

Fortunately, there’s a lot educators can do to reduce implicit bias in their classrooms and school community, including teaching students about recognizing and overcoming unconscious biases.

Take advantage of resources like these to help explore issues of unconscious bias with your students.

1. Who Me, Biased?
The New York Times produced a series of six short videos (between 1 and 3 minutes each) looking at the effects of our unconscious choices and attitudes.

2. Can These People See What’s Wrong With This Picture?
In this short video, BuzzFeed staffers investigate a children’s poster and discover some implicit biases.

3. Always, #Like a Girl
Although it’s a commercial, this short video by Always highlights the implicit bias inherent in talking about doing things “like a girl.”

4. How to Overcome Our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them
In this powerful TEDx talk, Verna Myers offers three important calls of action for acknowledging our unconscious (and conscious) biases and changing our relationships with others, especially with young black men.

5. Project Implicit
Project Implicit explores the “thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control” to help educate people about hidden biases. The Project offers more than a dozen tests to measure implicit bias in areas ranging from race and religion to gender and sexuality. The tests are confidential

6. Look Different
Look Different is an MTV campaign to help people “unlearn biases, open up conversations with family & friends and [get] specific things you can do to fight for what’s right. There are resources for educators, information on racial, gender, and anti-LGBT bias, a bias cleanse, and several other tips and actions to take.

7. Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged
How do our own stereotypes and judgments limit our openness and receptivity to others? This activity (grades 4 and up) uses props (or photos) to explore our snap perceptions of others.

8. Whom Do You Pet & Whom Do You Eat?
What are our relationships with different kinds of animals, and why do those relationships exist? Lead students (grades 5 and up) in an activity which explores why we treat different types of animals differently, and how we can learn to view them with different eyes.

Don’t forget to forward this to ONE person who would benefit from at least ONE of these resources.

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