Implicit bias causes us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as appearance, race, ethnicity etc. These attitudes are activated involuntarily and develop at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages. They affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.
Being a recipient of negative bias, being labeled or stereotyped has a powerful negative impact on the psyche of an individual and/or a community. We see the effects in the world today. This makes it even more essential that teachers consciously create safe places for students to explore their identity through creative expression as well as bring about a sense of awareness that builds empathy in the classrooms.
Elemental music classrooms are set up so that through play, imitation, and exploration students organically discover creative ways to express themselves. Students have usually been prepared and hence are predisposed to working individually or in small groups on creative improvisation and composition projects. These dispositions allow students to focus and reflect more on the content – what they are doing instead of worrying about how they are doing it.
Creative movement is a great way to introduce diversity related topics and issues with much subtlety, without much verbal discussion, and without overthinking how one can respectfully phrase clarifying questions and answers.
The book “Red” by Michael Hall, is a simple story but is a wonderful way to build awareness about labels and stereotypes in the greater society. It leads one to reflect on how one perceives oneself based on society’s view of oneself, it shows well meaning and well intended people trying to fix what is perceived as a problem, and how the problem itself is not a problem but a different way of being. Heavy issues that are gently unfolded by a crayon story of a blue crayon in a red label.
The following movement activity may be adapted, without the writing pieces for younger kids. It can be just a simple movement activity that simply raises awareness of oneself and others based on the story or it can lend itself to a larger discussions involving a) stereotyping or labeling and/or b) how do we perceive ourselves and others. Once we become aware of this how would we modify/adapt our behaviors to be more respectful and empathetic.
Red by Michael Hall
ISBN-10: 0062252070, ISBN-13: 978-0062252074
Music: Two Xylophone Pieces, Album: Music for Children Margaret Murray Vol. 4 P 46 # 3 and 2 or any piece or pieces put together in ABA form
Here you can view and download the worksheets associated with the lesson:
Download (PDF, 128KB)
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