Thursday, March 15, 2012

Clothing Based Bias

This is a great activity used to help your students discover their biases. It was copied from the Teaching Tolerance website, which is an awesome center with lots of great resources.
I used this activity in my class - and it was great - the students really discovered things about themselves of which they were not aware.

In this lesson, students will explore the way clothing can influence our perceptions of one another.
"Who you are is more important than what you wear."
Kenneth Cole, designer
Students will find they impose stereotypes based solely on how someone dresses.
Step One: Split your class in half, with half facing one side of the room and the other half facing the opposite side. Give the first half the Santa cap image and the second half the turban image.
Step Two: Ask the following questions out loud and have students write answers on their handout.
  • What kind of emotions instantly come to you when you see this picture?
  • Where do you think you learned about this individual?
  • Who taught you about this individual?
  • What did they teach you?
  • How has the media (TV, movies, books, stories) shaped your image of this individual?
  • How long have you known about this individual?
  • Have you ever personally seen this individual?
  • Have you ever seen someone dressed like this individual?
  • Have you ever personally known someone who looks like this individual?
Step Three: After students have quickly jotted down answers, have students to share their responses and record them on opposite sides of the board.
To help you do this, and to help differentiate the two groups' responses, have a volunteer from each side of the room come up to record answers on the board. One side will be all Santa hat responses and the other side will be all turban responses.
Be prepared for students to be confused at the bizarrely differing responses to the image they believe all students are sharing.
Step Four: Hand out the page showing both Santa and the man in the turban. Ask the following lead questions and allow for discussion:
  • What is different in the two images?
  • Looking at our responses we've recorded on the board, what is similar or different about them? Why?
  • Does it matter that most of you have had some experience with Santa during your lifetime? Why or why not?
  • Would your responses to the image of the turban change if you knew someone personally for many years that wore one?
  • What do you think we can learn from what we've done here?
Step Five: What are other groups of people we judge based solely on what they might be wearing?

If an educational act is to be efficacious, it will be only that one which tends to help toward the complete unfolding of life. To be thus helpful it is necessary rigorously to avoid the arrest of spontaneous movements and the imposition of arbitrary tasks.
                                                                                                                         ~ Maria Montessori

James 1:2-4 ESV 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I humbly thank my wonderful family for their support in all that I do. Robert Robbie Cowan, Robert Drew Andrew Cowan, and Hunter Cowan Hartselle, Decatur, AL

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