You are Your Brain

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.

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About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. She is enrolled with the Osage tribe.
This entry was posted in authenticity, framing, science, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to You are Your Brain

  1. M Dorman says:

    Love this,

    Like

  2. #CoolBlogPost @DrAnthony

    Like

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