Schools could use 'unconscious bias' program devised for police forces

22nd February 2016 at 19:21
police bike
US schools could soon be using a curriculum developed for police forces to tackle “unconscious bias” among teaching staff.

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University of South Florida academic Lorie Fridell developed a “Fair and Impartial Policing” curriculum to help police forces counter perceived bias in how they go about their duties.

Ms Fridell’s work came in the wake of a number of high-profile cases such as the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Ms Fridell is now in talks with at least one school district to adapt the curriculum for teachers.

The program was devised by the criminologist to help tackle bias among police officers in recruitment academies or on patrol.

It includes three modules: understanding human bias; the impact of biased policing on community members and the police department; and skills for fair, impartial and effective policing.

Officers who attend the course are taught to “understand that even well-intentioned people have biases” and to “understand how implicit biases impact on what they perceive/see and can impact on what they do”.

They are then taught how to use tools that will help them to recognize their own conscious and implicit biases, and shown how to reduce and manage these biases.

“The key element of a curriculum to reduce the amount of bias would be first educating people about their own implicit biases, which is the foundation and beginning of all of our various curriculums for police officers,” Ms Fridell said. “Then we’d look at what science tells us about how individuals can reduce and manage their biases.”

She adds that schools should partner with social psychologists to develop a bespoke curriculum for their target audience and to explore different ways of reducing and managing bias.

This is an edited article from the 19 February edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week's TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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