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A call to combat prejudice and bias. (President's Message).

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York City and Washington, D.C., have had another tragic result, in addition to the terrible loss of life and property. They have brought to the forefront feelings of prejudice and racism throughout the world. Religion, culture, race, and experience all feed into the feelings that people have for one another. These feelings are reinforced in the home, the church/ temple / mosque, on the playground, and even in the classroom.

If we are to develop a society that can live in harmony and peace, then we must begin to address divisive issues in our classrooms. Very young children work and play together without bias. Unless the adults working with children help them learn how to continue to work and play together peaceably as they grow, however, biases picked up outside the school will begin to dominate and disrupt the harmony characteristic of the earlier years.

Diversity exists throughout the world, and so teaching to overcome prejudice and bias is needed in all countries. We are now witnessing war in several countries. Children hear their elders and news commentators make unfavorable comments about other countries and groups of people. This can be confusing to children. They need opportunities to hear rational discussion and thoughts about these war situations. The classroom is a place where they can begin to sort out ideas about war and peace for themselves.

ACEI has taken a lead in combating prejudice and bias by publishing two books dealing with racism. Both go beyond black/ white issues common to the United States, and provide guidance and ideas for teachers that can be applied anywhere that prejudice and bias exist. This is a challenge for most teachers, and not one that is easily addressed. Educators must start by examining their own attitudes toward others who are different from themselves. Then they can begin to help the children in their classrooms learn to work and play together.

--Nancy L. Quisenberry, President
COPYRIGHT 2002 Association for Childhood Education International
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Author:Quisenberry, Nancy L.
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 6, 2002
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