This week we were tasked with taking at least two implicit bias tests found on Harvard’s Project Implicit website. I chose to do two political tests– one for preference for physical attractiveness/political party, and whether or not I had an “automatic” preference for Thomas Jefferson over Donald Trump. I was more interested in taking a political test as I was skeptical as to whether or not the information gained from the sex/gender or race implicit bias tests would be valid or useful. I learned that I have a slight preference for Democrats and that I do not have an automatic preference for Thomas Jefferson.
I don’t discuss politics while working with 10-13 year old students, but I do occasionally catch off-hand comments about news events and negative comments towards our current president. As someone who is a liberal Democratic I am more likely to allow these off-handed comments to slide if they aren’t posed to the entire group or act as major distraction. I am already aware that I prefer Democrats, but I understand perpetuating this bias of mine could support students in their own biases. The political world and news media is heavily biased. It’s important to continue the search for truth and weigh in all perspectives in my own life, and the same goes for my students.
As a role-model to my students I would like to treat off-hand political comments with an appropriate amount of attention. I think it’s acceptable for students of their age to form opinions about our government. The terms “bias” and “quality evidence” both come to mind as good conversation topics. Without addressing specific people or events, I could potentially engage with said student about the impact of his/her statement on others in our field group. Political issues are debatable and appropriate debating conduct is something I could choose to discuss with my students when the occasion arises!