Judgement is the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. (google it). I would like to concentrate on the making sensible conclusions part of judgement. As Hoobastank sang; I am not a perfect person. I have noticed that I making conclusions. A lot. As soon as I noticed it bothered me. Haven’t we been told “Judge not, that ye be not judged”? The first instance came when I was on Facebook and visiting the PE Central thread. One woman stated that she gives the fitness test to her students every month. Instead of trying to understand her position I automatically made a sensible conclusion and told her what she was doing was wrong. Was I telling her this because fitness testing students every month was wrong or did I make the sensible conclusion that fitness testing is not the best use of classroom time?
My thoughts then turned to my teaching. I make snap sensible conclusions 1,000 times a day. When two students are arguing I usually know who is wrong before I even get involved. When a ball goes flying across the gym and I see two students standing near where it was I can tell you who was the one who kicked it without even seeing who did it. I make judgements about my students all the time.
So what is the problem with judging? We all do it. We are biologically programmed to judge things. John Medina writes about attention and judgement in his book Brain Rules. He states, “Can I eat it? Will it eat me? Can I mate with it? Will it mate with me?” Those all seem like good reasons to come to a sensible conclusion. Where does the problem with judgment come in?
The problem with judgement is that people can only judge by using their own biases and experiences. When I judge people on social media am I fairly judging them? When I judge my students’ decisions and efforts in class I am using my own lens and perspective. Therein lies the worry. I am judging based on my views and experiences in life. This is where my race, socioeconomic status, religion, sexuality, and culture all play a huge role in the judgements I make. It is impossible to separate my judgments from my biases without metacognition.
One example of bias I came across is an article published by Psychological Science.
“Across both studies, the researchers found that racial stereotypes shaped teachers’ responses not after the first infraction but rather after the second. Teachers felt more troubled by a second infraction they believed was committed by a black student rather than by a white student. In fact, the stereotype of black students as “troublemakers” led teachers to want to discipline black students more harshly than white students after two infractions, Eberhardt and Okonofua said. They were more likely to see the misbehavior as part of a pattern, and to imagine themselves suspending that student in the future.”
That study should worry you. It should make you think long and hard about what your biases are and how they impact your students.
Q1. How do you avoid judging coworkers? #slowchatpe
Q2. How do you reflect on your biases? #slowchatpe
Q3. What makes you think a student is not a nice child? #slowchatpe
Q4. How do you ensure your classroom management is fair? (appropriate not equal) #slowchatpe
Q5. Who is the most nonjudgmental person in your life? How do you know? #slowchatpe