24 Academic preparation

Our entire team believes that when learners come to these sessions with some introductory understanding of what implicit bias is and why it is of such critical importance for leaders in the health system to be attentive to their own implicit biases, they are better equipped to engage. Because of this, we ask learners to take responsibility for engaging with preparatory material before interacting with the scenes.

Preparation includes engagement with a short lecture, assigned readings and videos, all of which introduce learners to contemporary (primarily Canadian) scholarship. I also show learners present day news stories that illustrate how persistent and pernicious implicit bias is across Canada, and document its predictable consequences to people and groups who are most under threat from oppressive systems. I intentionally include stories from our local context (the Niagara region) because I want learners to understand that implicit bias is not something far away that has little to do with us but rather, that it is causing profound harm in our own neighbourhoods, hospitals, services and communities. Some of the resources that are used in HLSC 2P21 are in the boxes below.

Teaching Resources

This short course from the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity (2018) “Implicit Bias Module series” includes four introductory modules about what implicit bias is and how it operates. Classroom educators who are preparing their students to engage with the scenes may find it useful as preparation material for their students.

“Peanut butter, jelly and racism” is an accessible and engaging video that introduces Implicit Bias as a concept. Developed by New York Times reporter Saleem Reshamwala, it was posted in the New York Times in December, 2016.

Contemporary scholarship

Every time I teach about implicit bias and use the scenes I update course readings with Canadian health scholarship in this area. It could easily be updated with research from many different disciplines.
  • Parekh, G., Brown, R. S., & Zheng, S. (2021). Learning Skills, System Equity, and Implicit Bias Within Ontario, Canada. Educational Policy, 35(3), 395-421.
  • Sit, C. (2021). ES15. 06 Global Perspectives on Implicit Bias in Oncology Care: Canada. Journal of Thoracic Oncology, 16(10), S837-S838.
  • Luomala, K. (2021). Implicit Bias in Canada’s Healthcare System: Implications, Solutions and a Case Study. Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science, 3(3), 69.
  • Andersen, J. P., Di Nota, P. M., Boychuk, E. C., Schimmack, U., & Collins, P. I. (2021). Racial bias and lethal force errors among Canadian police officers.

Current news stories

Experiential Learning: An invitation to “unsee”

Finally, we show students this video that features Brock’s Experiential Education Director Sandy Howe. Sandy offers a challenge to students to learn how to “unsee”.

Written Transcript of Video

One of the questions I’d like to pose to you as we get under way with this workshop is:  How do we see?

All of us come to our day-to-day, regardless of the people around us at work, school, home, with friends, or out in public in general, with our OWN lens. Me, mine and you yours. This has been shaped by a lot of different things including our own personal histories and lived experiences, and this sometimes means that we hold assumptions or biases. These are our own individual “ways of seeing” that we may not even be aware of and which have an influence on how we show up in our lives and how we interact and treat others. I’m particularly thinking about your work in this course and the connections between what you’re learning and the work we’ll be doing in this workshop. So, how do YOU really see?

Sometimes, before we can change how we see, we have to learn how to unsee or broaden our view.

During this workshop we invite you and encourage you to participate in the activities and dialogue that will have you reflecting on the assumptions and biases you may hold when you look at a particular person, thing, or situation.

For many of you, this will be a whole new learning experience. For some of you, it might even feel uncomfortable, intimidating or even a bit scary. This is a safe and non-threatening environment and a space to practice and try things out without judgement. You’re encouraged to participate actively, but also in a way that keeps with your level of comfort. Please use this as a learning lab as you explore the scenarios you’re presented with.

On that note, we hope you’re ready to unsee, in order to find new ways of seeing moving forward. We hope that you learn new things about yourself in relation to your class content and the people you may find yourself interacting with. Get ready to unsee.


Haunting our Biases: Using Participatory Theatre to Interrupt Implicit Bias Copyright © 2022 by Kevin Hobbs; Michael Martin Metz; Nadia Ganesh; Sheila O'Keefe-McCarthy; Joe Norris; Sandy Howe; and Valerie Michaelson. All Rights Reserved.

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