I came across a Verizon commercial attempting to tackle the Participation Gap problem. It got me thinking about potential flaws in our education system designed in and for the Industrial Age but not the Information Age.
Is our outdated education system inherently unequal? With the current grading system, how can teachers maintain neutrality and not develop biases towards or against students? What are the problems with this bias?
The implications of teacher bias could be that disadvantaged students are further disadvantaged when ignored due to poor performance. Teachers may adopt a “help those who want to be helped” mentality versus helping those who need help the most. This mentality may match the meritocratic beliefs of society which could be flawed.
The big question this leads to is, “who deserves to be helped?” Our natural responses may be:
2) whoever needs it the most, or
3) only those who want to help themselves.
If you’re in the “everyone” camp, then the challenge arrives when you have resource constraints (e.g. time, people, etc.) and can’t help everyone. Then it’s a matter of either coming up with more resources, being more efficient with available resources, or being selective with who should receive the resources first which leads us back to our original question.
If you are in the “neediest” camp, who and how are we to determine the neediest? Certain scenarios like life or death, adult or child may be easier to decide but what about this town or that town, this child or that child? Who is needier?
If you choose to follow the “survival of the fittest” mentality this may lead to heavy bias towards those who are privileged and already ahead. If you’re disadvantaged and discouraged from helping yourself, then you will more than likely receive delayed help or worse, no help at all.
Going back to the original question about teaching bias, I think most of us would agree that the worst-performing students need the most attention. However, by who’s measuring stick or grading standard is this worst performance? What if the standard is outdated for our current and future society? How can we replace it? Would we want to replace it?
I do not know.