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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Escaping Bias

Pablo Stafforini 
If your actions, writing, and speech are an expression of who you are, can you really avoid or escape “bias” in every area of life? Bias in what you believe, bias in what you value, bias in what you prefer?

For example, take me as a Christian…and then put me into the role of a TESOL teacher in a foreign country—say China, which is currently opposed to Christianity—and ask me to squelch my Christian “bias” or witness (erm, in other words, my declarations of faith, my testimony of what God has done in my life, refraining from praying aloud, etc.).

I can refrain from praying aloud in my classroom for my students. I can refrain from bringing the Bible to class (although I wouldn’t because it has fantastic poetry and narration…). I can refrain from speaking about what I believe. But in the end, I will find that I can’t hide everything about what I believe, because belief is not merely a piece of clothing that I can put on one day and change out the next.

Belief is a part of who I am. And eventually, I am going to be found out.

Even if I wasn’t a Christian, the result—being found to be a Buddhist, Atheist, Wiccan, etc.; or being found to be “biased” in any of these—would not change.

You can’t hide who you are forever. You can’t control every single facial tick that gives away your distaste toward Christ. You can’t hide that your determination to show Christ toward your students via your material doesn’t register with them on some level.

Behavior doesn’t lie. What you speak, what you write, what you do—all of these things trace a path straight to your heart, revealing, at least in part, that which you believe.

But what about the curriculum? That isn’t going to be biased, right?

Well…the curriculum that I choose, as well as the alterations that I put it through for my class, is biased to some extent because it reveals my preferred teaching methods, or my lack of patience for certain recommended exercises because I revamp or skip them. 

What I don’t choose to teach, which is sometimes classified as the null curriculum, also reveals bias; this material is not as pertinent as the other material, or this material isn’t suitable for the age group or level I’m instructing, or this material is boring, etc.

Extrapolating from the hypothetical scenario…avoiding bias seems difficult at best to me, even with the most determined of “bias eliminators.”

As a writer, that is a bit of a scary thought because I am going to share many of my biases—the good, the bad, and the ugly—with the world.

Just some food for thought *^_^*

What do you think—is avoiding bias possible, albeit difficult? Easy? Something you’ve never really thought about until now?

Comment! :)

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