Schools and educational institutions in a pluralistic societies such as the US, UK, Canada, Singapore, South Africa, etc, have a diverse range of students belonging to different socio-economic backgrounds, genders, races, ethnicities, religions, cultures, sexual orientations, age, learning styles, etc. Thus, it is the need of the hour to educate students against stereotyping, discrimination, prejudices, biases, and misinformation.
Teachers and tutors across the globe are laying more emphasis on imparting anti-bias education that will enable students to accomplish success academically, socially, and in every sphere of their lives.
School authorities, influencers, counselors and key decision makers have an important part to play in ensuring that students are taught key life lessons and act in a responsible matured manner.
Apart from sensitizing students against discrimination, prejudices, stereotyping, misinformation, an anti-bias curriculum also trains students to develop leadership skills and a proactive approach to problem-solving. An anti-bias educational system also facilitates students to recognize social malaise and develop action plans for augmenting societal conditions.
The underlying principle behind imparting an anti-bias education is to foster a positive environment in the schools where students will have a healthy self-identity and learn to work closely with their peers that will help them to perform at their level best.
The objectives of anti-bias education
- To enable each and every student to become confident, self-aware, have a positive social identity and family pride.
- To teach each and every student to appreciate and respect human diversity.
- To help each and every student to care for their peers and develop empathy towards others.
- To enable each and every student identifies unfairness and discriminatory actions.
- To encourage students to take action against discrimination and prejudice.
How to implement anti-bias education
Teachers who endeavor to root out biases, prejudices and stereotypes can give students factual information and teach them to have positive interpersonal experiences with their peers. This should be first and the most important step in sensitizing students about the existing prejudices, stereotypes, and biases.
Schools and educational institutions can design an all-encompassing curricular and academic assessment tools that can enable educators, students, and other staff members to build and sustain a strong sense of equality. By doing so, schools can have a clear-cut roadmap to tackle discrimination of any forms and foster a spirit of equality and fraternity among the students from all backgrounds.
Educators and school authorities need to identify any subtle or apparent discriminatory actions when it occurs and efficiently address them. The staffs and teachers are required to remain vigilant and address the biases at their source. Schools also need to build rapport with parents and guardians and communicate the behavior that is expected from the students.
Listen to the grievances of students who have faced discrimination due to their genders, races, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, etc. Schools should be very particular on listening to any victim of discrimination or prejudice and take the required measures to contain the harm.
Warn the students who are found to be discriminating as well as take disciplinary actions against the repeat offenders to discourage such untoward behavior. Schools also need to have a zero-tolerance policy on any forms of discrimination and at times take exemplary actions on the wrongdoers to deter any such incidents in the future.
The most important step is to educate parents and early childhood tutors. Parents and newly-appointed tutors must be provided with tips on addressing and eradicating biases, stereotypes, misinformation, and prejudices. The parents and tutors must also be provided with sufficient materials and resources on anti-bias topics and themes that will help them to set good examples in front of the students.
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