Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Recognizing Bias
Lesson 5:
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Philanthropy Framework

Purpose:

Students discuss biases and recognize that we all have biases, but we aren't always aware of them. Since people have different experiences, we all develop different biases. Students learn that a bias can create an unfair situation.

Duration:

One 20-minute lesson

Objectives:

The learner will:

  • define bias.
  • reflect in writing about a personal bias and make a plan for overcoming the bias when making decisions or judgments.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

This character education mini-lesson is not intended to be a service learning lesson or to meet the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice. The character education units will be most effective when taught in conjunction with a student-designed service project that provides a real world setting in which students can develop and practice good character and leadership skills.  For ideas and suggestions for organizing service events go  to generationon.org.

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set

Play a game called "Find the Common Trait." In this game, the students mingle around the room slowly, until the teacher says a number between 2 and 5. Upon hearing the number, the students quickly join into groups of the named number. In that group, they need to talk among themselves until they find something they all have in common. It may be something physical such as eye color or type of shoes, or it may be something related to an interest, a practice, or their family. When they find a commonality, they raise their hand and tell the teacher. When the teacher hears from all the groups, the students mingle again. They form a new group of a different number named by the teacher. In the new group, they look for a common trait again. After playing two or three times, debrief with the class. Ask them if it is difficult to find something that they have in common. Discuss why it is easy to find differences with others. Then ask them how finding things in common between diverse people helps them in a conflict.

  • Tell the students that they are all diverse individuals with different perspectives. Their experiences and personalities form who they are and what they believe. Introduce the word bias. [A bias is a point of view influenced by experience.] Tell the students that we all have biases, but we aren't always aware of them. Since people have different experiences, we all develop different biases. Tell the students that the following example shows how a bias can create an unfair situation.
  • Read or have a student read the following paragraph: 
  • When a big-city symphony wants to hire musicians, they do not judge the applicants on their appearance; they judge them only on their musical ability. That seems fair, doesn't it? But that hasn't always been the case. At one time, more men than women were hired to play in symphonies. For some reason, the judges preferred male musicians. Today, however, most symphonies listen to the musician applicants from behind a screen so they can't see what they look like. Sometimes the musicians even have to take off their shoes so the judges can't get hints from their footsteps about whether they are listening to a man or woman. Although that may seem unnecessary, it has been proven to be the fairest way to hire. Now, because of the practice of "blind auditions," the balance of men and women is more equal. This is how the symphony overcame a bias. It wasn't enough just to be aware they had a bias; they had to guarantee it with a "blind audition" so they wouldn't let their bias toward male musicians influence their decisions.
  • Ask the students why blind auditions are a fair way to hire musicians.
  • Have students think about and describe in writing in their journals a bias that may not be fair to others. For example, they may form unfair opinions of people based on their looks, interests, dialect, clothing, neighborhood, or what music they listen to. Tell them to write about why they have the bias and what they can do to make sure they don't treat others unfairly because of their bias. Tell them to use some of the words and concepts explored in this unit to guide them as they form a plan. 

 

 

Lesson Developed By:

Betsy Flikkema
Associate Director
Learning to Give

Barbara Dillbeck
Director
Learning to Give

Handouts:

Philanthropy Framework:

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