Lakewood Coop Preschool is committed to providing an anti-bias environment for children, adults and families. Lakewood Cooperative Preschool is committed to maintaining a diverse and vibrant membership that reflects the healthy and enriching diversity found in Seattle as a whole. LCP believes that the uniqueness of each family structure, cultural affiliations, religious beliefs, financial situation, and life experiences brings riches to the co-operative as a whole when shared among the membership through in-class and extra curricular activities.
We are dedicated to the following goals in anti-bias education:
- Nurture each child’s construction of a knowledgeable, confident self-concept and group identity. This goal means creating the educational conditions in which all children are able to like who they like without needing to feel superior to anyone else. It also means enabling children to develop biculturally: To be able to effectively interact within their home culture and within the dominant culture.
- Promote each child’s comfortable, empathetic interaction with people from diverse backgrounds. This goal means guiding children’s development of the cognitive awareness, emotional disposition and behavioral skills needed to respectfully and effectively learn about differences, comfortably negotiate and adapt to differences and cognitively understand and emotionally accept the common humanity that all people share.
- Foster each child’s critical thinking about bias. This goal means guiding children’s development of the cognitive skills to identify “unfair” and “untrue” images (stereotypes), comments (teasing, name-calling) and behaviors (discrimination) directed at one’s own or other’s identities (be they gender, race, ethnicity, disability, class, age, weight, etc.) and having the emotional empathy to know that bias hurts.
- Cultivate each child’s ability to stand up for her/himself and for others in the face of bias. This “activism” goal includes helping every child learn and practice a variety of ways to act: (a) when another child acts in a biased manner toward her/him, (b) when a child acts in a biased manner toward another child, (c) when an adult acts in a biased manner. Goal four builds on goal three: Critical thinking and empathy are necessary components of acting for oneself or others in the face of bias.
In addition, it is the desire of Lakewood Coop that our school reflect the community of the Rainier Valley, and our outreach efforts strive to attain that goal. We ask that you support our goals in the classroom and at home by doing the following:
- Examine your own biases, prejudices, and stereotypes; we all have them. Acknowledge them, then counter them through education, discussion, and personal contact. Discover the similarities; value the differences.
- Use positive language and be more accepting of others. Listen to a child’s stories about the dad that she has never met. Give an affirming response, such as, “Some kids are just like you, honey, and don’t have a dad. Some kids don’t have a mom. Everyone’s family is a little different.” Accepting and celebrating the experiences of all the children is the most important step in the anti-bias curriculum.
- Identify stereotypes you see and hear in the classroom, in public, in print, or in the media. For example, Disney is notorious for its weak and/or evil depiction of women. Counter this with real-life heroines, from the famous (Rosa Parks) to the everyday (Mom!). When reading a holiday book, point out that some families celebrate Solstice, and some celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa during mid-winter. When in the dramatic play, encourage different kinds of family groups in your play (for example, grandmother, uncle, step-parent, or partner).
- Look for prejudice in language and point it out. Substitute unisex job titles for gender-specific ones (for example, mail carrier for mailman, firefighter for fireman, flight attendant for stewardess, etc.). Do not automatically defer to “he” as society has programmed us to do (“eenie, meenie, minee, mo, catch a tiger by her toe…”). This tide can be turned, it just takes a very conscious, continual effort.
- Directly address any negative comments children make regarding differences. Explain that these comments hurt feelings. Acknowledge the differences and put them in context. Point out that we are all wonderfully different in many ways (for example, skin color, body size, facial features, family composition, ability, religious beliefs, etc.). Children at this age are noticing differences. Differences are real; it is the values associated with these differences that can be harmful.
- Be aware of the feelings around difference and disability. Many children are afraid or feel pity when they first learn about a new situation. Help children understand that people in other situations experience happiness, sadness, love, creativity and other emotions just like we do. Help children understand that we can only know what another thinks and feels by getting to know her/him.
By promoting Anti-bias attitudes, we will help create a mor harmonious world for all children.