By Raquel Kanner
On Friday, November 9th, members of the sophomore and junior Student Leadership Boards (SLB) visited the mentor classes and taught a very important lesson. Their presentations focused on an idea that is very prevalent in today’s world – the idea of implicit bias.
“One reason why [the SLB] started going into Mentor classes about two years ago was to provide SLB sophomores an opportunity to explore their leadership and facilitation skills by teaching a mentor class on a topic dealing with race and diversity. In collaboration with our school district’s Global Competency initiative, the lesson encourages freshmen to think beyond our own community (the Armonk bubble) and consider other perspectives and communities,” says Mr. Torres, head of the Student Leadership Board. The presentation began with the freshman defining bias – a fairly easy task. Next, the sophomores and juniors played a video that described stereotypes and perspective in our current society. Following the video was an explanation of implicit bias, which may be attitudes, stereotypes, and/or beliefs that can affect how we, as a society, treat others.
After explaining implicit bias, members of the SLB spoke about the opposite – explicit bias, which is when someone is aware of their bias. Following this definition was a series of cartoons that highlighted features discussed in the definitions. As a member of SLB, I really enjoyed this part of the presentation because it not only reinforced the definitions recently learned, but it also applied the knowledge to an actual example. One of the cartoons highlighted gender equality in the workplace. The picture contained a woman being interviewed my a man for a job, but the man could only picture her as a little girl. This example truly captures the idea of implicit bias; without realizing, the man had pre-existing stereotypes about someone who he had never met.
After the cartoons were discussed with the class, modern-day examples of bias were handed out to groups of freshmen. The groups had to evaluate the example, determine whether the scenario represented implicit or explicit bias, and brainstorm different ways to handle the situation. Most of the scenarios touched on ideas of racism, a major problem that exists in our world, and many of these examples involved explicit bias as well.
Although some of the examples used in the presentation may have posed some controversy, it is important to understand that everyone has a different perspective. “I thought it was very interesting to present our lesson to the freshmen in their mentor classes due to the fact that a lot of the topics discussed hadn’t been necessarily ever told to them in a school environment,” says sophomore SLB member Anika Kumar. As a member of the SLB, our main goal was to increase the awareness of implicit bias and suggest that almost always there is more than just one perspective or side to a story.
Overall, without even realizing, implicit bias is something we all face in our daily lives. By increasing awareness about implicit bias, it will make it easier for us to recognize our actions and consider the importance of looking at situations or stories from more than one perspective.