You will need
- Coloured pens or pencils
- Scrap paper
Before you begin
- This is a great activity to run during an online session. Check out the advice on using Zoom and other popular digital platforms and the guidance on being safe online.
- Set up your video call on your chosen platform and send out the invites. Consider having a test call beforehand to make sure everything is working.
See what you say
- The person leading the activity should read the description of the first person below.
- Everyone should draw the person based on the description.
- Give everyone a few minutes to complete their drawings.
- Encourage everyone to share what they drew. Compare the similarities and differences between the drawings:
- What are they wearing?
- What size are they (tall, short, fat, thin)?
- What colour is their skin?
- Do they have a gender?
- How old are they?
- Show everyone the picture of the first person and reveal their name. Chat about whose drawing is most similar to actual image of the person. What are the most significant differences in people’s drawings and the actual image?
- Repeat steps one to five with the other person descriptions.
Unconscious bias is when we have stereotypes about certain groups of people without realising it. For example, we might presume doctors are men and nurses are women because we’re used to hearing about and seeing male doctors and female nurses in the media. It may also mean that we expect achievements from some groups of people and not others. This may come across unsupportive and can even lead to prejudice. Everyone has unconscious bias as it’s part of how our brains understand the world, so it’s really important to challenge the way we’ve always seen and done things.
In this activity, everyone drew people based on descriptions of the work they’ve done and impact they’ve made. Ask everyone to think about the drawings which differed a lot from the actual image. What was it that made you choose a certain age, race, gender, size, or look for the person? This is a really difficult question, but often we associate certain traits with certain jobs, personalities or achievements. This is unconscious bias and is caused by lots of things, like only learning about history from one perspective, or watching TV shows and movies where characters are built on ignorant or harmful stereotypes.
There are many ways to reduce unconscious bias. Ask if anyone can think of some suggestions. For example, you could:
- Engage with positive images of people of different genders, races or abilities by reading stories like ‘Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History and Exceptional Women in Black History’ by Vashti Harrison or films like ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’.
- Talk about how people have been discriminated because of their race, gender, sexuality, ability, and age. If you understand the problem, you can better address it.
- Read more than one account of history. People’s perspectives and experiences of what happened (and how it happened) differ.
- Online safety
Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.
For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.
As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.