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Component for Module 201

Identifying and Removing Bias

Content Outline l Resources l Suggested Developmental Activities

Skillfully integrating an understanding and requisite developmental skills in eliminating bias in our programs enhances our ability to uphold the agency mission through active resource stewardship. This component provides specific considerations to introduce all interpretive park rangers to the biases that would prevent their interpretive and educational contacts from achieving their goals with the widest possible range of audiences. Identifying and removing bias from programs and media enhances interpretation, which in turn allows a broad audience to discover personal relevance and reasons to care for the resource.

Upon completion of this component, learners will be able to:

  • Define bias and explain its relevance to interpretive and educational programming;

  • Identify three examples of bias in existing educational or interpretive materials and offer alternatives to remove them;

  • Identify at least three different types of bias in interpersonal interactions and offer alternatives to remove them;

  • Develop a rationale for presenting "bias-free" programs, and be able to defend it on a psychological, social, and cultural basis;

  • Cite three things they can do to ensure that the programs they present are free from bias.

Educational programming is an effective vehicle for interpreting the significance of National Park Sites with school groups, youth groups, and adult learners. Interpretive programs have the potential to contact many park visitors, and education programs may contact learners who have never visited a national park site. People who visit park units come from diverse backgrounds and have had a variety of experiences before coming to our sites. As interpreters, our challenge is to make the stories of our sites accessible to the public, while creating a safe learning environment that engages visitors and accords them dignity and respect.

To this end, it is critical that interpreters learn to identify and remove bias from all aspects of interpretation. In Module 110, park rangers achieved competency in assessing visitor needs and characteristics. This component provides one technique to allow interpreters to provide inclusive, multicultural programs that will respond to a wide variety of those needs and characteristics. Module 102, component Quality Service also provides basic information that may help the learner acquire skills to help with this material. The supplemental readings included with Module 103 include a file on bias. As in Module 101, Fulfilling the NPS Mission, the content of Module 201 applies to all aspects of NPS interpretive and educational programs.

Bias, whether overt or unintended, influences people's sense of self and others. Bias is defined as any attitude, belief or feeling that results in or justifies unfair treatment of an individual because of his or her identity (i.e. race, sex, physical ability, sexual orientation, ethnicity). Bias is communicated in a multitude of ways: verbally and non-verbally, in written or graphic materials, and in the design of physical spaces.

Bias in interpersonal communication can take the form of making eye contact with males more than females, ignoring African Americans while responding to people of Anglo European descent, or asking higher order questions of able-bodied people than of those with physical disabilities. Bias in written materials includes the use of characterizations and stereotypes, inappropriate language and terminology, and cultural tokenism.

In order to develop and present interpretive and educational programs that are free of bias, interpreters must be able to recognize and remove bias from all aspects of programs. This component provides the building blocks needed to present bias-free programs. Once completed, this component will help the learner recognize bias, explain the value of creating and presenting bias-free programs and materials, and cite strategies for presenting programs free from bias.

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Content Outline
I. Definitions

A. Bias (gender, class, racial, ethnic, others)
B. Prejudice
C. Stereotypes

II. Forms of bias, prejudice, stereotyping

A. Interpersonal communication

1. Verbal

a. Speaker's point of view (From what perspective does the interpreter speak? What assumptions does she/he make about the topic and audience?
b. Pronoun usage (Are masculine pronouns used when referring to gender neutral objects? Are feminine pronouns used diminuitively?)
c. Euphemisms (Are euphemisms used to diminish the import of sensitive or controversial issues such as: slaves/servants)
d. Terminology (Are terms used with cultural sensitivity?)

2. Non-verbal

a. Eye contact (With whom does the interpreter make the most eye contact?)
b. Body language (What does body language communicate about accessibility/inaccessibility or interest/disinterest?)
c. Gestures (How are gestures used to prompt or silence members of the audience. To communicate interest/disinterest?)
d. Positioning (Where does the interpreter spend the most time?)
e. Inclusion (Who gets called upon? With whom does the interpreter spend time? What questions are asked of different students/visitors?)

B. Printed materials

1. Text

a. Narrator's point of view
b. Pronoun usage

2. Illustrations

a. Artwork (Does artwork depict people with cultural authenticity? i.e Are Native Americans always on horseback and in feathers, or, are the Dutch always in clogs?)
b. Photographs (Do photos include faces similar to those who you are speaking to, for inclusion?)

C. Exhibit design and support materials

1. Layout and sequencing of text/illustrations (Do the experiences and views of a particular group predominate? Are views of other groups included?)
2. Accessibility (Do manipulatives and exhibits allow for access by physically disabled? Children? Others?)

III. Effects of bias and prejudice

A. Sense of self
B. Sense of others
C. Quality of experience
D. Discovery of personal meaning
E. Resource stewardship

IV. Rationale for presenting bias-free programs

A. Psychological (How does bias affect a person's aspirations, motivations, impressions of self and others, and ability to function effectively in diverse settings?)
B. Social (What impact does bias have on the social fabric? How does bias affect ability to function as a society?)
C. Cultural (How does bias affect cultural expression? What impact does bias have on the health and perpetuation of diverse cultural groups, their traditions and belief systems? How does this impact our understanding of ourselves and human experience?)

V. Strategies for presenting bias-free programs

A. Appropriate and effective communication techniques

1. Verbal (language usage, higher and lower order questioning, direct/indirect communication)
2. Non-verbal (eye contact, positioning gestures, affirmation, time spent with individuals or groups, intonation and inflection)

B. Printed materials (Is language sex-fair and inclusive? Is material devoid of stereotypes and characterizations? Do graphics support content? Is the narrator's perspective clearly stated?)
C. Content, perspective, approach (Are a range of experiences included? Are people represented with cultural authenticity? Are sources current? Does the approach accommodate different learning and communication styles?)
D. Props and materials (Are materials accessible to a range of users? Are alternatives available for people with disabilities? Do materials include images that are relevant to the audience?)

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Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children, 6th edition, Derman-Sparks, Louise and the A. B. C. Task Force., Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1992. Discusses the extent to which children internalize bias at a young age, and explores the role adults play in teaching bias to children. Includes practical strategies for identifying bias in classroom curricula, language, and the environment.

Crossing Cultures through Film, Summerfield, Ellen, Intercultural Press, Yarmouth, ME, 1993. An excellent resource for putting together intercultural training for staff.Includes an annotation of over 70 classic films and their potential uses for cross-cultural training.

Developing the Multicultural Process in Classroom Instruction: Competencies for Teachers, Baptiste, H. Prentice, Jr., University Press of America, Phoenix, AZ, 1979. Though dated, this work offers a competency-based approach to developing a multicultural curriculum. Includes lesson plans, strategies, and suggestions for creating a comfortable learning environment.

Diversity in the Classroom: New Approaches to the Education of Young Children, Kendall, Frances, 2nd edition, Teachers College Press New York, NY, 1996. Focuses on creating an environment conducive to learning in culturally diverse settings. See especially Developing a Multicultural Classroom Environment, assessment tools, and bibliography of children's literature.

Experiential Activities for Intercultural Training. Vol. 1. Seelye, Ned, ed., Intercultural Press, Yarmouth, ME 1996. Includes training materials (simulations, case studies, role plays, and individual and group exercises) useful for developing intercultural awareness and cross-cultural sensitivity.

Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls, Sadker, Myra, and David Sadker, Scribners and Sons, MacMillan, 1994. Provocative examination of the factors influencing girl's desire, or lack thereof, to participate in traditionally male-dominated careers. Sheds light on the extent to which classroom bias affects girls motivations.

Girls in the Middle: Working to Succeed in Schools, AAUW, Washington, DC, 1996. This report and video show how middle school girls, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, use the same basic behavioral strategies to cope with adolescent challenges.

Guidelines for Selecting Bias-Free Textbooks and Storybooks, Council on Interracial Books for Children, New York, NY, 1980. Though dated, the guidelines remain current.

How Schools Shortchange Girls: A Study of Major Findings on Girls and Education, AAUW, Washington, DC, 1992. This report discusses the lack of attention given to girls and education, and the impact this will have on achieving goals articulated in "America 2000."

In a Different Voice, Gilligan, Carol, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1993. Discusses the ways males and females think and the different values the bring to public and private issues. Examines the profound and enduring impact of gender bias on the psychological growth and development of females.

Looking at History: A Review of Major U.S. History Textbooks, Davis, O.L., Gerald Ponder, and Lynn Burlbaw, et. al., People for the American Way, Washington, D.C., 1986. Includes reviews of twenty major U.S. history textbooks.

Making Choices for Multicultural Education: Five Approaches to Class, Race and Gender, Sleeter, Christine E. and Carl A Grant, Merrill, Columbus, OH 1988. Focuses on the theory and pedagogy of multicultural education. Each chapter includes a section titled, "Recommended Practices," though the book is largely theoretical in nature.

Multicultural Education: A Teacher's Guide to Content and Process, Hernandez, Hilda, Merrill, Columbus, OH, 1989. This book provides a balance between theoretical material and classroom teaching strategies.

Multicultural Teaching: A Handbook of Activities, Information and Resources, 3rd edition. Tiedt, Pamela L., and Iris M. Tiedt, Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA, 1990. This text contains a variety of lesson plans focusing on stereotyping, equity, self-esteem, and culture. Includes an appendix entitled, "A Literature Base for Multicultural Education."

The Nature of Prejudice (abridged), Allport, Gordon. Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1988, chapter 1, pp. 3-16. This seminal work provides one perspective on the root of prejudice and its impact on group interactions. Readers should be cognizant of the use of dated terms, reflecting the era in which the book was originally printed.

Resources for Educational Equity: A Guide for Grades Pre-Kindergarten - 12. Froschl, Merle, and Barbara Sprung, New York: Garland Publishing, 1988. This guide focuses on issues of educational equity, with particular attention paid to issues faced by girls and women. The guide includes an annotated bibliography for each of its chapters.

Sounds from the Heart: Learning to Listen to Girls, Barbieri, Maureen. Includes meaningful commentary on teaching techniques, psychological development theory, and strategies for balancing risk taking and security in the classroom.

Teaching with a Multicultural Perspective: A Practical Guide, Davidman, Leonard, and Patricia Davidman, Longman Publishing, White Plains, NY, 1994. Presents an integrated multicultural model of curriculum and instruction.

Turning on Learning: Five Approaches for Multicultural Teaching Plans for Race, Class, Gender and Disability, Sleeter, Christine and Carl A. Grant, Macmillan Publishing, New York, NY, 1989. This work is an excellent and practical companion piece to Making Choices.

You Just Don't Understand, Tannen, Deborah, William Morrow and Company, New York, NY, 1990. Explores the relationship between gender and communication styles. Provides practical suggestions for improving communication between people with diverse communication styles.

Journals and Magazines
Multicultural Leader, a newsletter published quarterly by Educational Materials and Services Center, P.O. Box 802, Edmonds, WA, 98020. This newsletter includes essays, a book review, a journal watch section in which essays are briefly summarized, a research review, and practical ideas for teachers. An excellent source for information on multicultural education and teaching.

Teaching Tolerance, a journal published twice a year by the Southern Law Poverty Center, Montgomery, AL. For information, write: Editor, Teaching Tolerance, 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104. A collection of ready-to-use ideas and strategies related to teaching and diversity. Each issue includes lesson plans and ideas submitted by teachers from throughout the country.

Center for National Origin, Race and Sex Equity,
Council on Interracial Books for Children. 1841 Broadway, New York, NY 10023.

ERIC-Education Resources Information Center, Largest education-related database. Contact the Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education, 1929 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1080. Also can be accessed on-line through ALTA VISTA search engine.
Title IV Desegregation Assistance Centers (DACs)
Desegregation Assistance Centers are charged with assisting educational organizations achieve equity goals outlined in Title IV. While DACs work primarily with schools, they are an excellent resource for learning about issues related to bias and equity. DACs are funded through three-year federal grants.

Region I
New England Deseg. Assistance Ctr.
Brown University
144 Wayland Avenue
Providence, RI 02926
(401) 351-7577

Region II
The Metro Center
32 Washington Place, Room 72
New York, NY 10003
(212) 998-5100

Region III
Mid-Atlantic Center
5454 Wisconsin Ave., Suite 1500
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
(301) 657-7741

Region IV
Southeast Desegregation Assistance Ctr.
Miami Equity Associates, Inc.
8603 S. Dixie Highway, Suite 304
Miami, FL 33143
(305) 669-0114

Region V
Programs for Educational Opportunity
University of Michigan
1005 School of Education
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(313) 763-9910

Region VI
Intercultural Dev. Research Association
5835 Callahan, Suite 350
San Antonio, TX 78210
(210) 684-8180

Region VII
Midwest Regional Desegregation Center
Kansas State University - Bluemont Hall
Manhattan, KS 66505
(913) 532-6408

Region VIII
Metropolitan State College/Denver
1100 Stout Street, Suite 800
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 556-8494

Region IX
Southwest Regional Laboratory
4665 Lampson Avenue
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
(310) 598-7661

Region X
AL, HI, ID, OR, WA, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Trust Territory of the Pacific
NW Regional Education Laboratory
101 SW Main Street, Suite 500
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 275-9507

ERIC -Educational Resources Information Center
The world's largest education-related database. Call 800-LET-ERIC or contact the ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education, 1929 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1080. ERIC is online and easily accessed through the Alta Vista search engine

National Coalition for Sex Equity In Education
NCSEE provides leadership in the identification and infusion of sex equity in all education programs and processes and within parallel concerns, including, but not limited to age, disability, national origin, race, religion, and sexual orientation. NCSEE serves as a national network for individuals and organizations committed to infusing equity and reducing role stereotyping for all people.

Women's Educational Equity Act (WEEA)

Failing at Fairness, DATELINE NBC, April 7, 1992, 20 minutes. Contact NBC Video Archives, 212-664-4444 or FAX 212-957-8917.

Girls in the Middle Working to Succeed in Schools, AAUW, Washington, DC, 1996. This video accompanies a report of the same title.

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Suggested Developmental Activities
1. Gender Bias in Interpersonal Communication (need to find full citation for Dateline NBC segment and need to identify which chapters from Sadker and Sadker are most useful) Watch the Dateline NBC segment featuring Myra and David Sadker's report on classroom gender bias and chapters 1, 3-5, 8 and 10 of Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls (see resources) Write down the forms of gender bias identified, as well as any comments made by the Sadkers on the enduring impact of this bias. Then, do one of two things:

A. Review a videotape of yourself presenting an educational or interpretive program, and make note of any bias you see similar to that identified by the Sadkers on the Dateline NBC segment (Remember - bias can be very subtle. You may want to do this with someone else). For each type of bias you identify, write a statement on the potential impact of that bias on the individual, and develop an alternative teaching strategy to mitigate the bias.


B. Observe an interpretive program and make note of any bias you see similar to that identified by the Sadkers on the Dateline NBC segment. For each type of bias you identify, write a statement on the potential impact of that bias on the individual, and develop an alternative teaching strategy to mitigate the bias.

2. Identifying Bias in Printed Materials
"Review Ten Quick Ways to Analyze Children's Books for Sexism and Racism" and "Examples of History Textbook Bias" in Guidelines for Selecting Bias-Free Textbooks and Storybooks (see Resources). List the different types of bias identified. For each, cite at least one strategy that will enable you to identify this bias when assessing publications.

Once you have reviewed the articles and made notes, review a park publication for bias using information gleaned from the first part of the assignment. Make a list of any bias you find, noting the type and frequency. Summarize your findings in a paragraph that describes the nature and frequency of bias, the likely impact of bias on readers, implications for resource stewardship, and a specific action items for removing

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Editor: STMA Training Manager Interpretation

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