Unconscious Bias

This section of the Curriculum Checklist supports art and design educators to interogate their curriculum, ensuring it meets criteria around Unconsious Bias.

Unconscious Bias

Implicit (or unconscious) bias is a term that describes the associations we hold, outside our conscious awareness and control. Unconscious bias affects everyone. Unconscious bias is triggered by our brain automatically making quick judgments and assessments. They are influenced by our background, personal experiences, societal stereotypes and cultural context. It is not just about gender, ethnicity or other visible diversity characteristics – height, body weight, names, and many other things can also trigger unconscious bias. Unconscious bias can have a significant influence on our attitudes and behaviours, especially towards other people. It can influence key decisions in the workplace and can contribute to inequality, for example in selection and recruitment, appraisals, or promotion.

Source: Imperial College London. Available here.

Key Question: All of us have unconscious biases and favour that which is closest to our own identity. As educators, this is detrimental to our students' learning and well-being. How do we support yourself and your colleagues to have potentially challenging conversations about this?

Examples:

  • As teachers, we rightly pre-empt what students could explore in their work, however, in doing so is there any unconscious bias at play?
  • Do you support students who wish to explore the artwork that is defined by their own ethnicity whilst also recognising that some students may equally not wish to be defined by their own ethnicity in their artwork? How do you manage this complex balance?
  • How do you routinely consider the impact of unconscious bias on learning or well-being? For example; as part of meetings (departmental, subject coordinator) do you lead conversations about the use of language & terminology?

Key Question: Do you acknowledge unconscious bias in your curriculum and in your assessments? How do you seek to address this?

Examples:

  • How do you ensure assessment is fair and consistent and does not disadvantage certain students through unconscious bias?
  • When planning your curriculum have you considered all student identities, for example, age, gender, religious or spiritual affiliation, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status

Unconscious Bias Resource Examples

  1. You Wouldn't Understand: White Teachers in Multiethnic Classrooms (2005) by Sarah Pearce. Available to view here
  2. Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race (2018) by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Available to view here
  3. Arts and Culture as Part of the Solution: Intro to Systemic Racism (2020) by Arts Alliance Allinois. Available to view here