Identifying and Dealing with Bias in History

One of the ways the current education system fails marginalized groups is by excluding their history from the version of past political and civil events that is taught as “truth.”

 

There is a way for teachers and instructors to begin to change this systemic exclusionary racism. It’s important for students and children to learn critical thinking skills, and to always ask question – why not teach them to question the heteronormative, white, male, privileged version of history they read in textbooks?

 

Here’s a great guide to help spot the signs of bias in “instructional materials.”

 

Some of the most common (but potentially sneaky!) examples of bias:

Framing using particularly loaded vocabulary  - for example, describing Aboriginal peoples as roaming, wandering, roving

Shiny, conflict-free covers - not telling the story

Stereotyping 

Invisibility via complete exclusion of a particular group 

Selective coverage – leaving out information on a relevant issue, its context, or a surrounding struggle/organizing movement


It's important for young learners to be taught how to recognize and fight back against these - and other - examples of bias. It's the first step to a generation that demands more from its story-tellers and historians.  

 

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