Inclusive Pedagogy and Bias

This week’s topic resonates well with me.  It talks about Inclusive pedagogy which focuses more on the constant reflection of how to make our learning environments places that are not only safe for diverse individuals but also places where issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the uppermost importance. However, its hard to achieve inclusive pedagogy if you can’t recognize that different people from the same cultures with the same skin color can think differently. How people grew up can also shape their thoughts, beliefs and reactions. People often think diversity only has to do with your skin color. Diversity to me is understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.

I am from Nigeria which consist of people from different religions, cultures, race, ethnicity etc even though everyone is Black. There are about 500 languages in Nigeria.  Nigeria is home to over 250 ethnic groups, with over 500 languages,and the variety of customs, and traditions among them gives the country great cultural diversity. The three largest ethnic groups are the Hausa 27.4% of the population; along with the Yoruba 21% and Igbo 18%. Even with so much of social diversity, there are instances of bias based on diversity everywhere all the time. I would like to cite a few I have seen or heard in Nigeria while growing up. It is common for men to dominate Engineering fields in Nigeria and for women to dominate social and arts fields. The number of women in Engineering courses like Civil Engineering is so small. Generally, people don’t expect women to reach higher levels in a corporate job or be over ambitious with great drive. Some men in Nigeria generally feel women are meant to be housewives. However, this is changing with time but a lot still needs to change.

One will also think there won’t or shouldn’t be any racial bias in Nigeria since we are all Black. Well, you are absolutely wrong. It is very common for parents to find a woman from their tribe, for their son for marriage. Parents often have concerns about their sons marrying from other tribes. Even though this is changing  because of how the world is evolving, but the bias still exists. Now, on the topic of  bias, it’s not limited to Nigeria. I think it has nothing to do with the country or place. It is prevalent everywhere around the world all the time. It has to do with the wiring in the Brain I think. The human mind is often described as having 2 modes – conscious (pilot) and unconscious (autopilot). The unconscious mind very quickly thinks of something and makes a judgment. It does not process the thought. For instance – One does not see many women in an Engineering collegeS in Nigeria. So, the human mind thinks maybe women are not capable of being engineers, which is absolutely not true.

Bias can be tackle by avoiding assuming and judging people based on partial/no knowledge. Each student should be treated the same way and given the same opportunity since they all contribute in one way or the other the the diverse environment. A diverse group is important because it helps to improve sophistication and experience of students in higher education about what is going on the world without actually travelling the world. For most students, college is the first place where they meet different people from all around the world and this helps them to really interact from diverse groups. College campus is a place where different people from different diverse groups meet and interact without actually travelling to those individual places. Learning is just not only in the classroom but also based on interaction between one or two people on campus. Diversity improves learning and make people become more educated and they learn how to make decisions, and judgement based on what they hear and not how people look. Diversity fosters a learning environment where people learn from one another and this reduces the fear and negativity in the world. A diverse group has wide variety of experiences and each member of that group can learn from each other experiences and perspectives, this they might not be able to get from another less diverse social environment.

Ultimately, biases can be eradicated with some strategies