What is bias?


By Sean Lang, published 14th October 2009

There is a nice story about how Calvin Coolidge went to hear a clergyman preach on sin. 'What did he say?' he was asked. 'He said he was against it', Coolidge replied. The history teacher or student, well used by know to the normal form of questions at GCSE, might be forgiven for asking mischievously, 'Ah, but he was a clergyman. Was he a reliable source? How do we know he wasn't biased>'

Bias plays a big part in teaching and assessment of history in our schools, but there is suprisingly little written about it. Like empathy, it owes its position to a large extent on to the work of the Schools Council History 13-16 project, which recognized the detection of bias as an important skill which the study of the subject could impart; unlike empathy is has survived into the National Curriculum...

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