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Humane Educator’s Toolbox: “Anti-Bias Education for Young Children & Ourselves”

Written by Marsha Rakestraw | Published on September 9, 2013 | Filed under Humane Connection
The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Humane Education website at http://humaneeducation.org/blog/2013/09/09/humane-educators-toolbox-anti-bias-education-young-children-ourselves/

Book cover: Anti-bias educationHow we set the tone about anti-bias in our classrooms & learning centers can influence the entire year — and possibly the whole of children’s lives.

Children learn at an early age about differences in race, gender, ability, economic situation, sexual orientation, culture, and more, and how we as humane educators approach those issues — and challenges with them — holds enormous influence.

The book “Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves” by Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen Edwards (NAEYC, 2010), offers a framework for helping young children develop positive social identities and comfort and confidence with diversity, as well as to evolve caring human connections, an understanding of unfairness, and to become empowered to act against prejudice and discrimination.

This may seem overly ambitious, but since children begin noticing, asking about, and acting on differences as early as age two, it’s important to begin providing them with skills for developing healthy relationships with themselves and others.

“Anti-Bias Education” provides an overview of anti-bias education and creating a positive learning environment and then delves into more specific issues, such as culture, race, gender, economic class, family structures, different abilities and holidays. Each of these chapters offers a brief analysis of the issue, as well as tips and strategies, activity ideas, case studies, and related essays.

My favorite parts were the examples of how specific situations have been handled by experienced anti-bias educators.

Although the book is focused toward early childhood educators, I found a lot of the information and examples useful for interactions with older people as well, including adults.

While the definition of anti-bias is limited to humans, “Anti-Bias Education” is rich with insights and ideas for helping us and our students become citizens full of compassion and integrity for others.

Add this one to your humane educator’s toolbox.