“All written material has a bias.   Building up skills to question bias and to become aware of our own viewpoints is an important part of the process of education”

Hidden Messages published in 1986 was part of the Development Education in Primary Schools project that also published Theme Work [link] and A sense of school [link].  This involved groups of teachers from a range of Birmingham schools developing ideas, testing them out and then sharing their experiences.

Hidden Messages features ideas for enabling an awareness of bias with an emphasis on racism and sexism but the ideas have a wider application.  The first part of the book suggests ways of teachers working together to explore their own ideas about bias.  The second offers a series of classroom ideas to help children recognise different kinds of bias, to engage with the realities of bias that we all have, and develop their own awareness.  

A word analysis exercise is a useful stimulus for teacher discussion, for example, individuals each highlight 3 words or phrases you feel it would be useful to focus discussion.  So, for example, on this text spotted recently in a so called model document for schools in Wales [2016] you might choose: eradicate - removal of bias - contrary to our beliefs.

“We intend to attempt to locate and eradicate by removal of bias, stereotypes and negative values which are contrary to our beliefs and policy statement in the following: books (fiction and non-fiction), posters, pictures, photographs, work cards/sheets, films/videos, language, class organisation, and sport.”

The assumptions in this statement suggests that there is still a lot of work to do on using bias as a stimulus to learning, some 30 years on from Hidden Messages.


Downloadable materials

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