A few months ago, Fulbridge posted a call on social media asking Fulbright alumni to contribute resources on anti-bias education in the classroom. The hope was to create an on-going resource for ETAs to discuss ideas, activities, and lessons to inspire incoming grantees to continue having important discussions in their communities. M Nguyen (ETA to South Korea 2018-2020) gathered resources from ETAs internationally, and shared thoughts on approaching these resources.
Should foreign teachers discuss racism with their students?
As teachers, we should strive to acknowledge our students as unique individuals with diverse life experiences. We should strive to provide them with the tools to think critically about the world around them. One of the hallmarks of international exchange is seeking to understand our differences by saying, “This is not my experience, but I want to learn about yours.”
It is crucial for educators to encourage the development of skills to analyze oppression as each student witnesses or experiences it. The lessons in the database include activities on specific issues—such as Black Lives Matter, colonialism, and human rights—but there are also general lessons on singular concepts, such as diversity, privilege, and justice. There is also a lesson in the database on expressing different opinions. How can our students stand up for themselves and for others if they do not have access to the critical thinking necessary to recognize oppression in its many forms and freely discuss their opinions?
First and foremost, the priority of anti-bias education should be your students. It’s easy for us as educators to fall into the trap of performatively teaching these topics to make ourselves feel good. With the added complexities of being visitors in another culture, there are certain perspectives to take into consideration. Our roles as foreign teachers in a country where we were not raised likely changes how we understand the context of oppression in our host communities. We are short-term visitors in our students’ classrooms, and these difficult conversations need to be built on relationships of trust and honesty.
For ETAs, our priority is likely teaching English and American culture. The danger when talking about racism and discrimination in the context of representing America is unintentionally making the dialogue about oppression a foreign concept. So how can we further contextualize anti-bias education for our different classrooms?
One way to introduce students to bias is through popular culture, allowing students to make stronger connections to the material. As an example, a lesson in the anti-bias database—taught by an ETA in South Korea—uses K-pop idols to explain the concept of bias. Another lesson uses a tweet from BTS that was used to spark discussion on racial discrimination and Black Lives Matter. There are countless ways to hook your students into anti-bias material, especially utilizing your students’ interests.
We hope this resource page can act as a catalyst for discussion where we share ideas for future Fulbrighters to come. Please feel free to use the activities in the database as inspiration for your own classrooms. Perhaps you tweaked a lesson to fit your students better, or you have a great idea that you think could help other ETAs—let us know! If you have anti-bias teaching materials—including, but not limited to, activities, powerpoints, handbooks, or lesson plans—please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Anti-Bias Education Materials.