Multicultural Counseling - D. Reflection

7. Multicultural Counseling

Discuss the multicultural competencies in relation to diversity, equity, and opportunity in student learning and development that are relevant to the activity you have chosen.

  • In this lesson students are challenging themselves to begin to identify their bias. This is obviously a much larger task than what can be accomplished in just a 45 minute class, but everyone has to start somewhere. The goal is that once students get to the point where they can recognize that they have a bias, they might be able to do something about it or prevent it from influencing their decisions and their thoughts. This really addresses the idea that everyone must do some intrapersonal reflection on their own thoughts and get a little uncomfortable with themselves in order to understand their true feelings and where they come from. When I first did experienced an activity like this I was borderline ashamed of what my thoughts first went to, since then I’ve learned a lot and I know how to recognize and accept my own biases. This is the growth that I was hoping to encourage in my students. Ultimately when this growth happens it allows us to create a more equitable society. When we see our bias and recognize it for what it is, then we can start to control it and turn our attention towards the needs of others. 

How did students change as a result of activity/counseling? 

  • So this lesson provides a little bit of background information and then asks students to start removing their filters. I explain it as we often say things in our head or think things that we would never ever say out loud. For this lesson we are going to focus on saying those things and removing our filters. It takes students some time to get used to this and in all reality they are probably still holding back a little bit. I then put a list up on the board of characteristics of a person. Something like never attends church, or works a part time job. The students spend some time making judgements and expressing the bias that they have about this person that they have never met. After going through three of these scenarios I reveal that these people are actually all me at different points of my life. Students are usually shocked at this revelation, it is especially funny if they said something mean-spirited. For example on this last lesson one student mentioned that he kept picturing someone with dreadlocks, which is about as opposite of my hairstyle as you can get!

What worked?

  •  This less works well. You are able to engage students fairly easily, you can keep their attention and overall they are interested in what you have to say and where things are going to end up. It meshed well with the content that was being taught in Psychology and all around turned out successfully. 
  • The other thing that has always worked out well with this lesson is that students are really good about keeping confidentiality. I always ask that we not judge others in this exercise so we have to remember to keep what we say in the room so that others don’t take our words or thoughts out of context. So far I’ve always had good experiences with this. I also ask students not to ever name names or say people that they are thinking about as that can also lead to some problems.

What would you do differently next time? 

  • I’ve taught this lesson several times and have just now really came to the conclusion that it might work better in small groups. Obviously we are a bit limited currently in our school due to covid restrictions, but definitely something to remember in the future. In small groups students are going to be more comfortable opening up and being true to themselves than what they would in a large group setting. It takes a lot of courage to really tell others what you are thinking, especially if it something that you normally would keep to yourself. 
  • I think another change that could be made would be to have students draw an image of what they are thinking as the teacher reveals each set of characteristics. These drawings can really help the student think through their first impressions and also provide a good representation of their thoughts that they can go back and reflect on. 

How can you use what you learned from this activity to further advocate for this population and promote the academic, career, and personal/social development of all students? 

  • Like I’ve said this lesson is really just a starting point for these students as they begin to think of others and the biases that they have. For me this lesson was the result of my own reflections and thoughts and my desire to start addressing all of the many issues of equity and multiculturalism. This lesson by itself does not and cannot really address all of the issues that our culture faces, it takes much more than something this simple, but it does open the door to conversations. When you can immediately sum someone up just by taking a look at them or by reading a few basic pieces of information that means we have a lot of work to do. Step one is really taking that look, recognizing that you are feeling some bias, and then going to the next step and dismissing that bias. 
  • If I wanted to continue this trend and really focus on giving students the tools to rid themselves of their bias I would probably expand this single lesson to at least 3 or 4. Each of these would take things a step further and allow for students to focus their thoughts on all sorts of marginalized populations. Students need to not only dismiss their bias when it comes to race, but for people living in poverty, people with mental illnesses, and even people with disabilities. We are human and we are quick to judge, controlling that will make the world a better place.

How has this activity impacted you?

  • Each time I do this activity with students I am excited to see their reactions. I always try to do some reflection to make sure that I am not missing the point of the exercise myself, because I think it would be easy to do. We have to constantly make sure that we are framing our thinking, our questions, and our goals to address the main concept of the lesson and not just to chase a laugh from our students. With this in mind I do really enjoy seeing students begin to process this information and this new knowledge. It is still important to keep in mind that this is still just a first step down a much longer path. 

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