Adapting an Anti-Bias Approach to Teaching Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in all Child Development Courses
I made a commitment to integrate the discussion of diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-bias education into every child development college course I teach. My decision was based on my experiences teaching various college courses focused on “Diversity.” I could not help but notice the “deer in the headlights” look on some of the students’ faces when I discussed topics such as: power, privilege, bias, race, stereotyping, oppression, discrimination and “isms.” It was abundantly clear they were unpacking some of these topics for the first time in their Early Childhood Education career.
As I prepared for each course, I closely examined each theory, concept and topic through an anti-bias lens. I began with the theories of Human Development. As much as I embraced the theories of Erikson, Piaget, Skinner, Bronfenberger and Maslow, these theorists all have something in common; they are white men. Just this fact alone provides a rich, fertile ground for discussions about power, race, privilege, bias, etc. Additionally, I make sure I include theorists who may or may not be in the textbook who are non-white, female or other genders who provide a wider, more inclusive perspective.
I invite students to always critically view what they are learning. Whose perspective is presented? Is it inclusive (gender, race, abilities)? Does the content take into consideration more than one group?
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the students themselves are a living source for content on the aforementioned topics. In the classroom, there are opportunities for building awareness, facing biases and deepening understanding about diverse people. I plan ample time for frequent opportunities to work in dyads and small groups. They share their “stories” and this promotes building and modeling a community where difference is valued and respected.
By Sheila C. Smith, Adjunct Instructor for Sacramento State Continuing Education and Solano Community College, CAAEYC Equity and Inclusion Committee Member