A big piece of metacognition, or thinking about our thinking, is knowing that we all have biases.
Biases are a lot like cooties; they are a naturally occurring phenomena. You can stop them for a short time, but they never go away.
They are a product of who you are, and much like cooties, bias is only an issue when you forget that everyone has them.
To be critical thinkers, students have to be aware of bias. Here are a couple examples of my favorite cognitive biases:
- The Anchor bias:
- I believe the first information I get because it was first.
- Available Heuristics bias:
- The information I remember is most important…because I remember it.
- Confirmation bias:
- You agree with me, so you must be both smart and right.
If there are people in your classroom forming opinions, making a decision or thinking about stuff, then these factors are in the mental mix.
Fake news is built and propagated with these tools; wars have been fought because of them. More importantly, a quick mental check can do a great deal to counteract their impact. Asking three quick questions can create a strong bias disinfectant:
- Ask them to explain why they made the choice.
- Remind them to always look for more than one source.
- Have students look at the issue from someone else’s perspective.
Bias is not something that can be resolved in 250 words. But that should be more than enough to make you think about it.