Examining Bias - Vaccination Talks

Recognizing that biases and perspectives are inherent in any topic leads to understanding the values, assumptions, possible motives, and underlying messages in what educators and students say in class. As an educator, reflecting on personal attitudes, biases, and values concerning the topic includes considering ways instructional approaches and teaching strategies could impact students. 

When reflecting on bias, educators might also reflect on various factors that impact individual choices and access to vaccinations. These might include access to transportation and healthcare, community access, working conditions, perceived importance/effectiveness of vaccines, lack of trust in medicine due to past negative experiences, and cultural norms¹.

During classroom discussions, students take risks when asking questions in front of their peers, expressing opinions, disagreeing with one another, and analysing their positions on topics. Learners’ willingness to take these risks is built from participating in dialogue that encourages sharing many different views openly and honestly. ​​Providing students with opportunities to reflect on their attitudes, biases, and values, and broaden their awareness of factors that may impact a person’s choices and access to vaccinations allows them to explore all aspects of an issue to promote understanding. It sets the groundwork for respectful communication that might otherwise lead to silencing others' viewpoints and perspectives. 

¹O'Neil, L., George, S., & Wagg, J. Trauma-Informed Classroom Strategies. Retrieved from https://web.unbc.ca/~loneill/classroomstrategiesmanual.pdf