members of U.S. society are expected to be responsible citizens. A
pluralistic and free society is sustained when all people are treated
with respect, dignity, equality and fairness regardless of differences.
School communities have always had as part of their educational mission
a mandate to create learning opportunities in which the development
of responsible citizenship is a primary goal.
economic disparity and societal tensions foster climates of distrust
and fear among people who lack the knowledge and skills to be successful
in a pluralistic society. The potential for conflict, discrimination
and scapegoating is high when prejudice and stereotypes go unchallenged
or are ignored. Biased behavior is learned behavior. Left unexamined,
biased attitudes can lead to biased behaviors, which have the potential
to escalate into violent acts of hate.
can be subtle or overt. In schools, name-calling and acts of social
exclusion are the most common examples of discriminatory behavior
and prejudicial thinking. Although children are not born prejudiced,
by preschool they have already acquired stereotypes or negative
attitudes toward those they perceive as "others" (Derman-Sparks,
1989). In an attempt to minimize the development of prejudice, well-meaning
adults often teach children to ignore differences and focus only
on similarities. Just as common experiences are part of the "glue"
that holds communities together, understanding and respecting differences
are essential for successful multicultural societies.
incorporates the philosophy of multicultural education while expanding
to include other forms of bias, stereotypes and misinformation.
Anti-bias education not only addresses race and ethnicity but also
includes gender, language, religious diversity, sexual orientation,
physical and mental abilities and economic class. Anti-bias education
takes an active, problem solving approach that is integrated into
all aspects of an existing curriculum and a school’s environment.
An anti-bias curriculum promotes an understanding of social problems
and provides students with strategies for improving social conditions.
seek to challenge stereotypes and biases can provide students with
factual, concrete information and positive interpersonal experiences.
Teachers can also learn how to effectively address biased behavior
when it occurs. A comprehensive program of staff development, curricular
materials and school assessment tools can help teachers, students,
parents and other community members create and sustain a cohesive
community where positive and equitable relationships are established
across cultural barriers.
(1998). A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute Anti-Bias Study Guide.
New York, NY: Anti-Defamation League.
L., & A.B.C. Task Force. (1989). Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools
for Empowering Young Children. Washington, DC: National Association
for the Education of Young Children.
& Grant, C.A. (1987). An Analysis of Multicultural Education
in the United States. Harvard Educational Review, 57(4), 421-44.