Friday, December 02, 2005

Another post this time about bias.

Thw word bias has gotten to be a scare word and the poster to whom I was responding cited the KU case as an example of a biased instructor.

Here is my response:


_____,

This may be a shock to you but professors do inject their own biases into the classroom. Where this gets to be a problem is when the professor belittles students or for matter other people as Mirecki did and I have followed this issue very closely. Let me illustrate what I mean. I am an evolutionary biologist so when I teach biology it is from the empirical framework of science. That is if you will built in bias. One semester I had a class that was composed mainly of fundamentalist Christians who were expecting a certain instructor. Students do shop around for instructors whose beliefs are consonent with their own. But when they saw me you should have seen their faces drop.

Yet we all got along fine, once they realise that I was not going to belittle them and be respectful of their beliefs. As I pointed out to them if you are going to not accept evolution you need to understand what it is you are not accepting. So the issue is not bias but how the instructor handles that bias in the context of the class.

If we are not able to express our own biases in a constructive way, if that has become offensive then maybe we ought to give up teaching, distill just the "content" of our disciplines into the disconnected bytes of a DVD which the students can buy and never have to sully themselves by hearing people with different viewpoints, different biases.

Paul
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