We have talked so much about how important it is that students feel comfortable in a class room to create a good learning environment. It’s clear that there is no room for bigotry, racism, or any prejudice of any kind. It’s important to treat everyone fairly in the classroom (and obviously everywhere else too). I’m sure no one in this class would never knowingly treat someone differently because of some physical trait or belief.
It is therefore terrifying to know that we all already have prejudice as a result of the culture we have grown up in. Even 3 year olds have preconceived ideas of people based on what that person looks like or believes. So even if we have the best of intentions, we may not have 100% control over how we treat our peers, colleagues, and most importantly, our students. This is terrifying. We have an obligation as teachers to not do something that we may not have control over, and can have a huge impact on someone’s future. Also, since the teacher-student relationship is one in which the teacher has power over the student, its scary to throw bias into such a relationship since the student has little power in the situation.
So how do you prevent this from happening? Can you limit the times you treat someone unfairly to nothing? I’m not sure. But I think the best way to minimize the impact of your limitations is to be aware of those limitations. Then maybe you can stay off of autopilot when it comes to something as important as treating students fairly.