Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Anti-bias work at the costume shop

At PTCC, we create "anti-bias curriculum". This means that we have four goals to help children counter the biases they encounter in their lives. The four goals are:

1. Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities.

2. Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity; accurate language for human differences; and deep, caring human connections.

3. Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.

4. Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions.

(These goals were originally written by Louise Derman Sparks in her book "Anti-Bias Curriculum for Young Children and Ourselves" and are excerpted from a pamphlet by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.)

Edit: A thoughtful parent challenged the way  these goals are phrased. He mentioned that it language sounds final, as though once one is finished with these goals, dusts off one's hands and congratulates oneself, even though what we're describing is a life long journey. I want to say thank you for this feedback, and agree. We are never done with this work. 

Teachers and admin staff here at PTCC are always working on these four goals with one another as well! We work hard to see injustice and to listen when someone brings it to our attention and to change it to the best of our ability. Thanks for the feedback!

At PTCC we sometimes summarize these by saying:

1. I'm okay.
2. You're okay.
3. That's not fair!
4. Let's do something about it.

There is SO much to learn about anti-bias work, and about how we form and counter our own and our children's biases. Today, I'd like to share a short video about these issues that  focuses on Halloween costumes.

The "What Would You Do?" series is really enlightening and tackles issues of  interpersonal issues of homophobia, sexism and racism in a way that is easy to talk about with other people.

In this episode, there's so much! We often define our selves and others by what we wear. Questions about gender and sexuality are addressed by moms in just a few subtle sentences. I wonder how their words sound to the child?

When we listen to the last woman who intervenes, I can hear her modeling all four of these goals for the little girl. Can you? I think that this story isn't a simple one, even though a seven minute segment can make it seem that way.

What are your thoughts?
How does your family talk about Halloween costumes?

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