Weekly Digest #79: Resources for Teaching about Racism and Bias, Part 1

Weekly Digest #79: Resources for Teaching about Racism and Bias, Part 1

There is a lot going on in today's world, and we know more than a couple of people who would prefer to ignore the news because of world events. But, as teachers do we have a responsibility to teach our students about race and bias? There has been some debate about this, with some noting that we've been taught that it is impolite to talk about race (for example, see this article about white parents talking to their children about racism). However, from a cognitive perspective we know humans naturally place things into categories, make associations, and use these in order to make quick judgments and decisions (this is discussed in resources 1 and 2). We also know that these processes can create bias, and even those who aren't overtly racist have implicit biases. Thus, as some of these resources suggest, it is important to recognize and talk about these issues.

This digest is Part 1 of a series of resources helping teachers teach and facilitate discussion about racism and bias. We were able to find so many great resources, so more will come out next week in Part 2 of the series.

This week, we provide a few resources highlighting important factors that perpetuate inequality, how our cognitive systems are tuned to categorize and how this is related to bias, and freedom of speech and confirmation bias.

Image from linked resource

Image from linked resource

In this brief video, Dr. Ali Mattu introduces the idea of schemas and explains how these schemas lead to bias. If you want a little bit more, Ali also has a video discussing why diversity in the media matters. This video goes further to discuss how stereotypes can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and why it is important for all of us to see diversity in the media.


2) How racism makes us sick, TED MED talk by Dr. David R. Williams

This is an extremely powerful TED MED talk. Dr. David Willilams is a public health sociologist and is extremely well versed in this research. One of my favorite things he says about the research is “All of these researchers were stating that racism was a factor adversely impacting blacks, but they provided no evidence. For me, that was not good enough”. He went on to develop 3 scales in order to scientifically investigate whether this was true.

This TED talk highlights how implicit bias and other factors perpetuate inequality within the United States. Even for those who are well informed about racism, this video is eye-opening.

Still shot of talk from linked resource

Still shot of talk from linked resource


3) Teaching about Charlottesville with Resources from The New York Times

This link contains a collection of articles and videos related to Charlottesville to help facilitate discussions of Charlottesville. For those interested to see how others are teaching about Charlottesville and its relationship to politics, social media, history, among other important topics can check out the #CharlottesvilleCurriculum on Twitter.


4) Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide, Southern Poverty Law Center, @splcenter

After Charlottesville, the Southern Poverty Law Center updated a guide to help communities fight hate and encourage peace, inclusion, and justice. This article provides concise a summary of the guide.

Image from linked resource

Image from linked resource


5) Offensive Freedom of Speech, by Dr. Ali Mattu, @AliMattu, on The Psych Show

Free speech often comes up in discussions of racism and bias. In this video, Dr. Mattu presents some history and defends free speech. He also makes the link to cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias, and why hearing diverse opinions is important.

Every Sunday, we pick a theme and provide a curated list of links. If you have a theme suggestion, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Occasionally we publish a guest digest, and If you'd like to propose a guest digest click here. Our 5 most recent digests can be found here:

Weekly Digest #74: Social Media Addiction

Weekly Digest #75: Classroom Management - Teaching Students Appropriate Behavior and Building Relationships

Weekly Digest #76: YouTube Channels to Help you Study

Weekly Digest #77: Cell Phones in the Classroom

Weekly Digest #78: How to Motivate Children to Learn