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Best of the Week 2018-2019: Holy Cross Values


On Wednesday, Mr. James Knight, Vice President of Equity and Inclusion, spoke to an IB Theory of Knowledge class about the dichotomy between two modes of thought: "System 1," which is fast, instinctive and emotional, and "System 2," which is slower, more deliberative and more logical. The presentation focused on research conducted by Professor Daniel Kahneman, an Israeli-American psychologist notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, on heuristics (mental shortcuts) and how they enable us to survive as humans, but at the same time, how they can lead us toward cognitive bias.

In his presentation, Mr. Knight talked about three heuristics: Availability (we make decisions based on the knowledge that is readily available in our minds), Representative (employs the use of past experiences to guide decision-making), and Confirmation Bias (the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs). The presentation culminated when the class self-reflected on their individual heuristics and cultural humility, the stance we take toward understanding one another, and how it serves as an effective way of overcoming biases that we all have as human beings. Through cultural humility, we shift from System 1 "rapid" thinking to a more thoughtful "System 2" way of thinking and we approach each relationship we encounter from a place of humility, self-reflection, openness and a genuine desire to learn and not assume. Mr. Knight had the students discuss the four keys to adopting cultural humility (maintain lifelong learning, engage in continuous self-reflection, become comfortable with "not knowing" and recognize power/privilege dynamics) and how they can do so as part of the St. Edward community, a place of belonging and understanding.

"At St. Edward, I feel like we do a great job of extending our arms to everyone regardless of their background in a warm spirit of hospitality to ensure all feel welcome and have a sense of place. In the Holy Cross spirit, the concept of cultural humility calls us to value the dignity of every person, not judge or allow 'System 1' thinking or stereotypes to cloud our decision-making," says Mr. Knight. "By consistently having difficult conversations and continuous self-reflection, our community can create an environment of cultural safety where everyone can become their best self."

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