Friday, 23 June 2017

Parenting: Uncovering Unconcious Bias

One of the challenges of bringing up children[1] Up there with leaving the house & making sure they are alive at the end of every day is not passing on any biases or prejudices you have. On the face of things this would seem like an easy problem to solve, just don't discriminate and teach your children the values of equality. The problem arises when we actually stop and think about how we really perceive the world and the people around us. If we really get introspective then we can uncover personal bias that we don't even realise we have.

Let's look at an example. How many fathers out there think on public transport: "it's polite to give up your seat to a woman"? On the face of it you are doing a nice thing. However if you teach that to your son then you are teaching him to treat women differently. This isn't ideal when you want to foster the ideas of equality. In this case you may wish to opt for "it's polite to give up your seat to anyone less able to stand". Women are just as capable as men in standing up :)

Tackling unconscious bias is a tough problem for everyone to solve, you're dealing with how your brain is hardwired to think about things. Only by consciously making an effort to question yourself can you discover these "things that I didn't even know I believed in". Luckily (depending on how you look at it), as your child grows up they will inevitably develop a perfect mechanism to help you with this: The incessant stream of "Why? Why? Why?..."

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