“How you live your life amounts to how you solve problems,” writes Susan Hopkins, in her book, Hearing Everyone’s Voice: Educating Young Children for Peace and Democratic Community. “This challenging thought is an opportunity for creative growth. Life is full of choices and problems. Our attitude towards them may be one of discouragement or optimism. It’s our choice! When young children are challenged early on to become problem solvers, they also become empowered to take charge of choices in their lives.”
Nadia Jaboneta expresses similar sentiments in her popular new book, You Can’t Celebrate That: Navigating the Deep Waters of Social Justice Teaching. She describes how an initially uncomfortable conversation between two children about race and religion led to great problem-solving on the parts of many – including the children! She writes: “As the year progressed, the children continued to ponder questions of race and religion. It was a year-long seminar on anti-bias teaching, led by the four-and-five-year-old children in my class! In the past I would have squirmed away from these questions. Now I was ready to wade in.”
And, an article on the Phi Delta Kappan website on antibias education for young children explains that “children are often presumed to be ‘innocent’ of racial biases, and many adults worry that by talking about race, they might inadvertently lead them to biased views. In fact, though, research suggests that children as young as 15 months old already notice race.”
Source: “Never too early to learn: Antibias education for young children,” by Jennifer Hooven, Katherine Runkle, Laurie Strouse, Misty Woods, and Erica Frankenberg, kappanonline.org, January 22, 2018
Navigating the Deep Waters of Social Justice Teaching
Find inspiration in this compelling story of an educator's social justice journey as she partners with families to explore racial identity, religious celebrations, and racism in response to a biased comment by one child to another in her diverse preschool class.
You Can't Celebrate That! is part of the Reimagining Our Work (ROW) collection. Use the ROW collection to discover how early childhood educators in the field are reimagining their work and thinking alongside children.
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Yes, very young children notice racial differences, as well as other differences such as language, dialects, clothes, and so on. Its part of making sense of their world. But bias and racism are based on putting negative and positive associations with these differences; these are learned behaviors that unfortunately seem to be learned by children from adults in their lives. Its important to understand these two different concepts.