What is it and how is it different from prejudice?

We explain what a preconception is and how it intervenes in education. In addition, we explain how it differs from a prejudice.

A bias is something we think about or accept before it can be experienced.

What is a preconception?

A preconception is a preconceived idea, that is, a previous notion that one has of something before being able to experience it directly. It is a word commonly used in the social sciences, made up of the Latin prefix pre- (“in advance”) and the Latin word concipere (“to conceive”), from which conceptus (“concept”) comes. Therefore, a prejudice is something that is thought or reasoned in advance, and in that sense it is similar (but not equivalent) to the notion of prejudice.

Anything we think or accept about the world before it can be experienced (either directly or verified by some method of inquiry) is fundamentally a preconception. In fact, in the study of pedagogy, this word is used to refer to the basic and intuitive aspects that the child forms from reality, and that are the starting point for the teaching of true concepts.

For example, a child may understand that two identical glasses with the same volume of water contain the same, but if we pour the contents of one into a narrower and taller glass, the child may think that it magically contains more water. This is precisely due to a preconceived idea about the capacity of things, which in this case leads to erroneous conclusions. The mission of the modern educational system, then, is to replace preconceptions with testable and demonstrable concepts.

However, we all handle many preconceptions to a certain extent: ideas that we make of some reality and that for one reason or another we have not been able to subject to critical judgment, or to the verification of direct experience. So, for example, many people rely on cultural biases, commonplaces, and misconceptions when dealing with people from other cultures or geographies, often discovering for themselves that what they took for granted was nothing more than a preconceived idea.

It may help you: Difference between concept and definition

Differences between prejudice and prejudice

Although both a preconception and a prejudice constitute preconceived ideas, the term “preconception” is generally reserved for scientific, argumentative or issues related to knowledge and knowledge, rather than subjective positions regarding other people, which is characteristic of prejudice.

If a prejudice is a kind of “prior concept”, then a prejudice will be, precisely, a “prior judgment”: a conclusion or reasoning reached regarding another person, without giving him the opportunity to demonstrate who he is and how he is. .

For example, a person who, without ever having been to Japan, thinks that the Japanese are very organized and good at math, is committing a prejudice. On the other hand, a person who thinks that Japan is a larger country geographically than it really turns out to be, is incurring a prejudice, since he is not making a judgment or a subjective assessment of anyone.

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