My educational work is based on the anti-bias approach in adult education which came to Germany at the end of the 1990s via South Africa after it was developed over decades by US and South African research, training and activism networks. It has become almost a brand name in Germany which designates quality and multiperspectivity in antidiscrimination work.
Together with my colleagues at the Centre for Social Inclusion, Migration and Participation in Berlin and Bonn I adapt anti-bias models and methods to a contemporary German context and to different professional fields of application, such as counseling, social work, university teaching and administration and exams.
The anti-bias approach as we understand it is a tested approach to recognize and dismantle biases and discrimination on a personal and interpersonal level, to develop alternative ways of thinking and acting, to question oppressive and exclusionary structures and to develop the capacity to act against them.
The following principles from the anti-bias approach guide my educational work:
- Being aware of one’s own biases and positions of power to be able to act against discrimination or at least in a non-discriminatory way. I try to walk this talk while being conscious of my shortcomings due to privilege and hopefully always open to criticism.
- Criticism of power structures and privilege, strengthening personal power and capacity to ally and to form coalitions.
- Constant change of perspective, between privileged and oppressed, between counselor and the persons seeking advice, between teacher and student.
- Methodology of experiential learning based not on simulations but on real like experiences from participants’ professional or personal life.
- Inclusive approach that seeks to facilitate every participants learning process. As the main goal is preventing and countering discrimination, this may include empowerment spaces.
I consider myself successful if participants pursue their own learning process with my/our help, if the actively appropriate what I/we teach and can test and apply it in real-life situations.
Dismantling bias and discrimination is a process involving thinking, feeling and acting. I present scientific findings as well as inspirations for self-reflection and application of things learnt.
The way to anti-bias thinking and acting does not only involve learning new things but also unlearning old things. My goal is to enable participants to gain new security where possible, but sometimes insecurity has to be welcomed as a necessary step towards something really new.
We start with personal attitudes and also talk about larger and global structures of power. These can be named and analyzed in educational work, also in their relations to indivduals’ acts and attitudes, but they can’t be changed during a seminar.
When applying things learnt it is important to start with spheres participants can actually influence. This is first of all oneself, it can also be methods applicable in certain professions. I focus on small and realistic steps and the curiosity to try out something new.
I plan and evaluate in close communication with clients and take the wishes, needs and insights of my participants along the way. Transparency in the communication between participants, clients and trainers is a key for successful trainings or facilitated events.
Heterogeneous teams work best in leading heterogeneous groups’ through their processes, especially if they involve dealing with identities and power positions.
I expect my clients to commit to the goal of non-discrimination.
I offer professional training only in profession I or my co-facilitators have work experience in.
As a counselor I tend to choose a structured approach, unless clients wish otherwise, and I always ask for feedback.