As adults we are distinguished and united by differences and similarities according to our gender, age, language, culture, race, sexual identity, and income level etc. Such diversity challenges our intellect and emotions as we learn to work and live together in harmony. However, if we are to talk about a child; from the day a child is born, he/she is raised into the cultures of his/her parents. A child is taught about his/her native language and his/her cultural belief. He/she meets different cultures, different foods, his/her way of dressing and speaking, and many other different cultural aspects. He/she grows up questioning and understanding many aspects of their background and many times aren’t introduced to other cultures. “By 3 years of age (and sometimes even earlier), children show signs of being influenced by societal norms and biases and may exhibit “pre-prejudice” toward others on the basis of gender or race (Reference is my reading: Why An Anti-Bias Curriculum?).” It is up to a child’s parents to be the first teachers of a kind of education: “Anti-bias Curriculum”.
Anti-bias Curriculum includes a multicultural education which is intended to decrease race, ethnicity, class, and gender divisions by helping all students attain the knowledge, attitudes, and skills which they need in order to become active citizens in a democratic society and to participate in social change. According to Anti-bias Curriculum, it is essential that teachers learn how to recognize, honor, and incorporate the personal abilities of students into their teaching strategies. If this is done, then children’s school achievement will improve.
Anti-bias curriculum focuses on changing inequality and the sources of stereotypes. This approach is based on the principle that even when teaching young children, attention must be paid to “systemic power dynamics” and the cultural environment in which intergroup relations program are conducted. This curriculum prepares children to change the social structures. Whereas the other approaches assume that changing people’s attitudes will eventually change the social structure, an anti-bias approach is built on that if the structures change, children’s attitudes will change. As a result, students are taught to take action against the inequalities present in society. However, I think, anti-bias classrooms attempt to model democracy because in these classes teachers include children in decision making and any changes such as rearranging the room. All of children irrespective of their race, ethnicity, gender etc. make choices, are encouraged to act on their choices, and are given opportunities to work cooperatively. They are taught skills in individual and group problem solving and critical thinking, and they are provided with experiences in taking social action.
The other issue which is related to the Anti-Bias Curriculum is that the responsibilities of us as the preschool teachers in the future. “Creating a diverse environment is the first step in implementing new curriculum. Then the classroom has the materials and conditions which serve as a basis for children’s initiating conversations and for teachers introducing activities ( Neugebauer, 1987).”
Firstly, getting parents involved in creating anti-bias classrooms may be useful. I think if a teacher is going to do an anti-bias curriculum than it is vital to get the parents involved. Programs that involve parents to share their culture affect children’s attitudes and feelings positively. Teachers need to get parents involve because parents are the students’ first teachers and parents play in important role in determining the attitudes and behaviors of their children. Also, programs that involve parents to share their culture may be so important. For example, grandparents will come to the class and share their culturally significant traditions, stores, and practices. Furthermore, meetings for parents are held to explain what anti-bias curriculum, the need for it, and the benefits etc. Moreover, teachers could put schedules of multicultural events that are coming up that are going to be in the school or community. I think that I could use these suggestions for my classroom -in the future- to try and get the parents involved, not only on cultural but other areas as well.
Secondly, it is extremely important that teachers evaluate their teaching methods in order to incorporate multi-cultural learning into the classroom environment. Teachers need to be aware of the different ways that students learn and express themselves. Some students are better auditory learners, and some learn better with the use of visual aids. It is up to the teacher to notice these differences and adapt their teaching methods.
Thirdly, to adequately attend to cultural diversity in the classroom, teachers must look first at their own cultural background and understand how their biases affect their interactions with students. Then, teachers can examine the backgrounds and needs of the student population and understand their students' cultural biases as well. Many educators are bias to their own or other cultures and many are prejudice toward some cultures.
In conclusion, heterogeneous grouping and grouping students with different ethnicities together is an excellent way for students to feel more comfortable around each other. Students will learn more about a person and understand that they may be different but are still just like them. It can be said that the anti-bias curriculum celebrates people’s differences and deals with them in direct and honest ways.