With the release of Yale’s recent research study, the early childhood field has focused on implicit bias. On Nov. 1, Education Week published in print and online a letter to the editor on implicit bias written by Teri Talan, Michael W. Louis Chair of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University, and Ayn Keneman, Associate Professor in Early Childhood at National Louis University. Below is the letter in its entirety.
Anti-Bias Training for Early Educators Should Be a Common Thread
To the Editor:
Regarding ‘Yale Study Probes the Complexity of Bias in Preschool,’ we believe it is important to keep in mind that early educators need support in understanding the family and community context of young children’s lives, as this context may relate to childhood behaviors—especially when the teacher and child are of a different race. This is why we at the National Louis University, in Chicago, thread culturally relevant pedagogy through all of our coursework, supporting our teacher-candidates through deep reflection that focuses on both the academic and social-emotional learning of young children.
In teacher-preparation programs, it’s important to develop new teachers’ cultural competence as a way to acknowledge the home and community cultures of both teacher-candidates and the children they will soon be teaching.
Guiding teacher-candidates to examine their philosophies and belief systems about teaching and learning helps them become self-aware, nonjudgmental, and inclusive of the cultural diversity of their future students. It is possible, for example, for preschool teachers to become aware of their biases and to conquer them as they work to create child-centered environments that respect diversity and communicate high expectations to all young learners.
As part of this process, we need ongoing professional development for all early educators that addresses cultural competence and anti-bias teaching approaches to ensure that the youngest students grow in all areas of their development.
High-quality teachers can make a difference in children’s early years; the impacts of successful teaching during a student’s first five years in the classroom may last a lifetime.”
Early Childhood Program
Michael W. Louis Endowed Chair
McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership
National Louis University