During a Year 5 lesson on being assertive, passive, or aggressive, I wrote paragraphs about each on the whiteboard. One learner asked,
“why do the assertive and passive paragraphs use ‘they’ and the aggressive paragraph use ‘he’?”.
She was pointing out an unconscious bias in the paragraph by unfairly seeing aggression as more of a male attribute. I was amazed that she had picked up on it.
So why did this learner see what was invisible to her peers (and to most of us, really)? There are lots of reasons but, I think she saw this bias because she already has a well-developed critical conscience. She sees the world through a lens that drives her to ask insightful questions around the issue of equality.
Imagine if we could develop a critical consciousness in all our learners through our pedagogy. This is what the Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire advocated. With critical consciousness, Freire hoped learners would go on to be people who change society by overcoming oppression and making the world fairer for all.