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The anti-bias curriculum is an activist approach which its proponents claim challenges prejudices such as racism, sexism, ableism/disablism, ageism, homophobia, and other -isms. Anti-bias curriculum has a strong relationship to multiculturalism curriculum and its implementation. The most notable difference between these two theories and practices is the age of the intended audience.

Origin Edit

The anti-bias movement was born out of the multiculturalism movement. Some of the people involved in the multiculturalism movement felt that it did not do enough to address social problems in the education system.

Multicultural curriculum taught basic facts about different cultures, often on specially designated culture days or holidays, rather than being systematically infused into the entire curriculum. While this did increase students' superficial knowledge of other cultures, some people within the movement wanted students to know why they didn’t know about other cultures and why certain people of certain ethnicities and classes are less likely to be economically successful.

Purpose Edit

The objectives of the anti-bias curriculum are to raise awareness of bias and to reduce bias. Anti-bias curriculum transgresses the boundaries by actively providing children with a solid understanding of social problems and issues while equipping them with strategies to combat bias and improve social conditions for all.

Instead of presenting the culturally dominant view of a subject, idea, history, or person, the anti-bias curriculum presents all possible sides. It claims to allow the student to see the whole view of the subject. Students will be able to analyze the topic from the different perspectives and see why and how different groups have different views of the subject.

The anti-bias curriculum is seen by its proponents as a catalyst in the critical analysis of various social conditions. It is implemented as an active means of reducing social oppression with the ultimate goal of social justice in mind.[1]

Designing a curriculumEdit

Advocates claim there are two parts to an educational curriculum:[citation needed]

  • The "formal curriculum" consists of the educational content, expectations, course materials (e.g. textbooks), evaluation, and instruction.
  • The "hidden curriculum" encompasses all the values passed on by teachers and educators, and from the school or educational milieu (i.e., the culture of the educational setting). For instance, the hidden curriculum teaches children and students to value punctuality and transmits dominant culture (e.g. chosen holiday celebration, monetary norms, manners).

Anti-bias curriculum advocates claim that varying degrees and layers of oppression exist in educational institutions, and that a biased curriculum perpetuates oppression, interferes with interpersonal relationships, and impedes the acquisition of skills and knowledge. The anti-bias approach urges educators to be aware of these social limitations and to eliminate them. The anti-bias approach is intended to teach children about acceptance, tolerance and respect; to critically analyze what they are taught; and to recognize the connections between ethnicity, gender, religion, and social class, and power, privilege, prestige, and opportunity.


Much of the anti-bias curriculum has been criticized for being Afrocentric rather than anti-bias.

Educational experts such as Deirdre Almeida, have said that typical anti-bias materials omit the contributions of non-African ethnic groups, such as Native Americans, Inuit and Alaskan Natives. Portrayals of Native Americans in typical anti-bias materials conflate actual aboriginal practices with invented, obsolete or erroneous ideas about Native American culture.[2]

Other critics, such as J. Amos Hatch, have noted that some anti-bias curricula can be construed as actively or passively adopting an anti-European racist bias, seeking to minimize contributions of Europeans in favor of other ethnic groups. This has produced "anti-bias" curricula that are overtly biased against people of European descent or in favor of people of African descent.[3]

See alsoEdit

Pioneers in activism and educationEdit

Educating and teaching childrenEdit


Template:More footnotes

  1. What is Anti-Bias Education? Anti-Defamation League Quotation: "Anti-bias education takes an active, problem solving approach that is integrated into all aspects of an existing curriculum and a school’s environment."
  2. Countering Prejudice against American Indians and Alaska Natives through Antibias Curriculum and Instruction. ERIC Digest.
  3. J. Amos Hatch, Qualitative Research in Early Childhood Settings

Further readingEdit

  • Bartlett, Lesley and Marla Frederick, Thaddeus Gulbrandsen, Enrique Murillo. “The Marketization of Education: Public Schools for Private Ends.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly 27.2 (1996): 186-203.
  • Ferguson, Ann Arnett. “Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity.” (2000): 592-600. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Osborne, A. Barry. “Practice into Theory into Practice: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy for Students We Have Marginalized and Normalized.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly 27.3 (1996): 285-314.
  • Van Ausdale, Debra and Joe Feagin. “What and How Children Learn About Racial and Ethnic Matters.” The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism. (2001): 175-196. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.
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