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lesson

Exploring Stereotypes and Biases through AI: A Discussion on Race, Place, and Identity

By Stephanie Hasty

Published


Lesson Objectives

  • Discuss what stereotypes we perceive and why we perceive them.
  • Discuss the use of AI to create images and articles that may not be entirely true, though they have aspects of truth.
  • Encourage critical thinking and promote discussions on the ethical use of AI.
  • Connect their own perceptions to others.

Essential Questions

  • What are stereotypes?
  • How do stereotypes affect how we view others and the experiences of others?
  • How do we view who we are and where we live?
  • How do our views help or hinder our interpretations?
  • How does AI help and hinder our thinking processes?

Media

Students will need access to this article from BuzzFeed (“I Asked AI What the Typical Person from Each State Looks Like, and Here’s What It Came Up With”), especially the images. If students can’t have access to the whole article, please show them 3 to 5 images from different states (including your own) and the opening paragraph to the article: The following images were created using generative AI image models for the sake of entertainment and curiosity. The images also reveal the biases and stereotypes that currently exist within AI models and are not meant to be seen as accurate or full depictions of human experience.

Part I: Opening

As students walk into the room, the media the students will be talking about should be displayed. Create a slide for 3 to 5 states or give them access to the article. Students will use what they say in the discussion as a starting point to talk about their own state, town, or city, the people who live around them, and themselves.

Warm‐​up

Ask students the following:
What do you already know about the state we live in? What do you already know about the people, the places, and the activities that happen here?

Part II: Previewing the Images

Class Activity

  • Have students look at the images they’ve chosen and/​or the images you have chosen.
  • If they need guidance, tell them to note what similarities they see, what differences, what stereotypes, and what they notice as a grouping all together. They should think about their own state and what is shown.
  • Have students work separately, and then have them work in pairs or small groups.
  • Students should use this graphic organizer to collect their findings.
Stereotypes and AI table

Let students talk to each other as you walk around the room—make sure they stay on task but also make observations that can help with the discussion (for example: focus on what AI thinks about the ethnicities and backgrounds of people from a given state). As the conversation winds down, prepare students for the discussion. What are the potential biases involved in creating such images? How do they reinforce what we know? Do the images take into account the diversity of the United States? Why or why not?

The class discussion can center around known and perceived stereotypes and about the reliance of AI in creating real images and/​or stories, but it should come back to how we perceive ourselves, others, and the world around us. There are no wrong or right ways to have this discussion—just make sure it is about topics you feel comfortable letting students talk about, especially in relation to other topics that will be explored for the rest of the unit.

Closing the Lesson

These can be used at the end of class to bring the topics of today’s lessons together:

  • Why might we start a unit using this article and activity?
  • What did you learn about yourself and others?
  • What did you learn about your perceptions?
  • What did you learn about your state? The United States?
  • What did you learn about AI?

You may also consider using our “Civil Discourse in Literature” unit to help you engage your students further in these conversations.

Common Core State Standards

Grades 9–10

  • SL.9–10.1: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (oneon‐​one, group, and teacher‐​led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • SL.9–10.3: Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.

Grades 11–12

  • SL.11–12.1: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (oneon‐​one, group, and teacher‐​led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • SL.11–12.3: Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choices, points of emphasis, and tone used.

Grades 9–10

  • RI.9–10.2: Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • RI.9–10.6: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.

Grades 11–12

  • RI.11–12.2: Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • RI.11–12.6: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.

Grades 9–10

  • W.9–10.1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • W.9–10.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience.

Grades 11–12

  • W.11–12.1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • W.11–12.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience.