Carnegie Education

Unconscious Bias and The Level Playing Field

I don’t believe in a world where people are treated differently, a world where your ‘privilege’ plays an integral role in predicting the story of your life.


As educators we have the most important vocation of all. Our organisations and actions form the basis of the success structures (heroes and role models) for not just the young people we serve but the society around them. I struggle with the notion and concept of unconscious bias. I’m not denying that we all hold certain prejudices and biases; my issue is with the unconscious part. All our default settings (including my own) favour one set of attributes over others. One set of people over another. Let me reiterate these are your default settings whether you like it or not:

  1. White
  2. Male
  3. Hetero
  4. Cis
  5. Middle class
  6. Able
  7. Etc.

If you’re reading this and thinking I’m calling you a racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. You’re completely wrong, those isms and ics are completely dependent on your actions, no thought crimes here.

What I am saying is that society has drilled the above supremacist images into your mind. A part of your mind see’s people in power as per the list above. For our less privileged young people, our schools hold them back literally makes their journeys to success more difficult. If young pupils look up and see people in success that do not look, sound or act like them, they will feel inferior no matter what the narrative is that we sell them.

The other issue is within the content of their experience.

I’m not going to explain how or why this is the norm, as the how and why are irrelevant. If you don’t now act to remove them you are in real danger of falling into one of those above categories by inflicting a violence on people who aren’t part of the list. This is not a revere Pran Patel the enlightened one. Earlier I stated that I hold the same default settings; however I, when in a position of power, will attempt to act in a way to remove these prejudices to level the playing field.

If you’re reading this. Let’s assume you’re now aware of your own self. Let’s now call this our conscious bias and remove it willingly.