Anti-bias education work in early childhood is shaped by a deep-seated belief in the importance of justice, the dream of each child being able to achieve all he or she is capable of, the knowledge that together human beings can make a difference. Listen to the voices of children who have experienced anti-bias education at school or at home. They give us hope and direction.
Several 3-year-olds (Asian, White, and Latino) are at the art table playing with small mirrors while they paint on paper ovals. As they look at their eyes, Jesse starts crooning to himself: “Oh, pretty eyes, pretty eyes. Lots of different eyes, pretty eyes, pretty eyes. Brown and blue, pointy, round. Pretty eyes, pretty eyes.”
Two preschool girls are playing Indians by whooping and pretending to have tomahawks. Miriam (age 4) stops them by saying, “Stop! That isn’t like real Indians. Mrs. Cowell is Cherokee, and you will hurt her feelings!”
A kindergarten teacher shows the children a magazine picture titled “Brides of America.” All of the women pictured are White. She asks, “What do you think of this picture?” Sophia, whose family is Nicaraguan, responds, “That’s a silly picture. My mom was a bride, and she doesn’t look like that.”
A mother relates the following anecdote: “When I picked Jonah up from kindergarten the other day, he said, ‘Mom, Kevin had tears in his eyes and his face looked sad and he told me that a bigger kid pushed him off the bars at recess. So Zena and I went to go find the boy and ask him why he did it. We couldn’t find him, but then we found him on the field. We’re not allowed to go on the field, but we had to because we had to save Kevin.’ After he told his story, I reflected, ‘Wow. You are a really good friend, Jonah.’ He said, ‘Yeah, when I see something unfair, Mom, I change it.’”
Why do we do anti-bias education work? We do it because we live in a world that is not yet a place where all children have equal opportunity to become all they are. A worldwide community of educators shares the vision toward which anti-bias education strives, adapting its goals and principles to the specific needs of the children and families they work with.
We invite you to be a part of this community, and we hope this book will provide some beginning maps for your journey.
|“What Do the ABE Goals Mean to Me?”|
Consider the four core anti-bias education goals as they apply to your own daily life and work. How do you assess yourself on each? (You can do this exercise by yourself or with your learning partners.)
1. (ABE Goal 1) To what degree, or in what ways, do I nurture construction of a knowledgeable, confident self-identity and group identity in myself?
2. (ABE Goal 2) How do I promote my own comfortable, empathetic interactions with people from diverse backgrounds?
3. (ABE Goal 3) In what ways do I foster my critical thinking about bias?
4. (ABE Goal 4) Under what circumstances do I cultivate my ability to stand up for myself and for others in the face of bias?
5. What are the challenges to achieving these goals in my life?
6. What might be ways for me to develop each of these goals in my work? in my personal life?
Excerpted from Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves by Louise Derman-Sparks & Julie Olsen Edwards, 9. 2010. This book is available for purchase in the NAEYC Store.
Copyright © National Association for the Education of Young Children.