A friend and I were just chatting the other day, how children literally say the ‘most darnedest, brutal and honest things’. They certainly see differences and I remember as a child I would point out differences amongst people and my mother would hush me and say ‘that’s rude Justine’. Funny enough, I have found myself doing the same in my classroom.
Just the other day a child in my class came to school with glasses, his mother had said to me that he is very sensitive about wearing glasses and if I could just keep an eye on him. I kept an eye on him and low and behold a child who I knew would say something said “Anthony you have glasses” and he laughed. I immediately hushed the little boy and honed in on accepting differences and that if someone looks or seems different to not laugh. As a result I called a few students to the front of my classroom and asked the children who were the audience, if all the children look the same? They said to me, ‘they look not the same’. I asked them to look at any differences. They pointed out the obvious such as these children are boys, these children are girls, he has short hair, but she does not. I then took it a step further and chatted to my children about the size of children, their colour skin and so forth. One of my children had shouted out “Teacher Justine, we are all different!” I said yes and should we laugh, sniggle and giggle at our differences and they politely said ‘no’. I asked them what should we do then? They said ‘be kind, be gentle Teacher Justine” (which is our essential agreement in the class). I said well done, we should be kind and gentle to one another, as well as accept and embrace all our differences because if were we all looked the same, life would be very boring.
As a result, I believe and think the message I sent to the little boy and my class is that we are all different and instead of pointing out our differences, we should rather accept, as it is unkind to laugh at differences. I am interested to know if anyone else thinks the little boy I reprimanded thought differently, if I responded in an anti-bias way or what I could have done differently?
With regards to how an anti-bias educator would of responded in general or about the scenario above, I think books are a great way to broach the topic of accepting differences amongst ourselves. I believe an anti-bias educator should at all times have anti-bias children’s literature displayed around the classroom and other secretly ‘stashed’ away books for times when bias arises in their classroom. Children’s literature can help children in an indirect manner to think about their own thoughts, feelings and actions and give alternative reasons or solutions as to how to think, feel and act differently. Secondly, I believe role-play or even puppetry can help children think about, understand and deal with anti-bias issues.