Our brains serve us well, remembering that tigers are fierce and blue-black berries are poisonous.
But our brains fool us.
We lock down on stereotypes: all tigers are fierce. All blue-black berries are poisonous.
And we do that with people, too.
When we learn that a student is smart then we expect him to wax brilliant and earn As.
And when we think a student is a slacker, we have a stack of C grades standing by.
When scientists tested teachers, they discovered when we think a student is smart, we grade accordingly.
If we judge a student as lazy or dumb, we grade accordingly.
Even if the paper we’re grading for each student is the same paper. That’s what scientists have found.
Now I face a new dilemma.
For years my students write secret numbers on their papers—not their names—so that I grade fairly and resist judgments. I trick my brain.
This week a student was peeved because she was reduced to a number.
She’s afraid I will treat her as a number, not a person.
She’s right, of course. All students in my class deserve to have their identities preserved.
But when it comes to grades I continue to use blind methods, knowing that sometimes blue-black berries turn out to be delicious.
Good for you!