Anti-Bias Anti-Racist Education and Montessori
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Raquel Eunice Diaz Marchetti. For those of you I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting, I have worked at Woodland Montessori for close to 10 years in many different capacities. In 2015, I received my Montessori training at Seton Montessori Institute. I am currently one of the lead teachers in classroom 3 in the preschool building. I have three children of my own ages 3, 9 and 17. My husband Sergio and I have been married for 8 years. He is from Argentina, I myself am first-generation American. My father was born in the Dominican Republic and my mother is from Ecuador, but if you were to ask me where I am from, I would tell you I identify as Dominican or Latinx. I just wanted to give you a short introduction to who I am and why ABAR (Anti-Bias Anti-Racist) Work is important to me as a POC (Person of Color).
The term ABAR which you may or may not have heard of refers to a path or journey that one consciously chooses to take or a lens you choose to look through. Anti-Bias Anti-Racist means opposing or prohibiting unfair discrimination against people based on race, religions, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, culture, learning styles, socioeconomic class, body type, abilities, etc. The term anti-racist is a person who opposes racism and promotes racial tolerance. There is a big difference between a non-racist and an anti-racist. An anti-racist strongly believes that all people are equal and are willing to stand up for their beliefs. A non-racist is passive while the anti-racist is active. The ABAR education is an approach to teaching and learning designed to increase understanding of differences and to value and respect all people regardless of their beliefs and backgrounds. It encourages all members of society to actively challenge bias, stereotypes and all forms of discrimination in schools and communities. The aim of this curriculum is to reflect diverse experiences and perspectives to create an inclusive, respectful, and safe environment for all members.
From the time we’re born we receive messages about our own identity and the identity of others. These messages are often learned unconsciously from family members, schools, friends, and the media. These messages can have a lasting impact on our self-image and our worldview. When differences are not valued and respected, it can be detrimental and harmful behaviors begin to emerge. As an example, we can begin to exclude some and value or accept others.
ABAR education provides opportunities for students, educators and families to learn from one another and explores ways to address bias and prejudice through awareness. This approach also helps to foster positive relationships and inclusive welcoming environment for all members of the community.
You may think racism is a thing of the past or that you have no responsibility for what happened before you were alive. You may claim that you are colorblind or not prejudice because you have a Black friend or are married to a POC. But stay open to learning about the realities of race and racism including how racism works at an institutional level and in how children are constructing their ideas about their own and other's identities from very young ages. It is important to self-reflect on one's own beliefs and find supportive friends, colleagues, and members of communities that are also on this path.
As you embark on the journey to become Anti-Bias Anti-Racist, we need to cherish its hopeful possibilities and be ready to meet its challenges. It requires that we engage in our own ongoing growth and become skilled at observing how children and adults will work to solve diversity and equity issues. It also requires learning about the ever-changing dynamics of the community and the larger society’s influence on children and families. It will require our creativity as well as our knowledge. Being an ABAR educator means accepting that this work is a lifelong journey of learning and growing through which, we must be persistent yet strategic, passionate, thoughtful, proactive yet patient, ultimately it requires us to have faith that change can and will happen.
You may be asking yourself how this all ties into Montessori philosophy. Well, Maria Montessori believed that children are the hope and the promise for all of humankind. This is why it is so important to incorporate these practices in early childhood programs. If we are to hope for world peace, Montessori believed that it was through the eyes of our children because the children are our future. At Woodland Montessori, our hope is to create an Anti-Bias Anti-Racist education for all classrooms, all children and all families. I hope this blog can bring awareness into our lives, our homes, our families and our community and encourage us all towards dismantling inequities and inequalities, and not simply passively hoping for racism and bias to go away on its own. Our children are counting on us.
Here are a few links for more resources:
Books for Children:
Book by bell hooks
All the Colors We are: The Story of how We Get Our Skin Color
Book by Katie Kissinger
Colors of Us
Book by Karen Katz
Let's talk about race
Book by Julius Lester
Books for adults:
Book by Robin DiAngelo
So You Want to Talk About Race
Book by Ijeoma Oluo
Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race
Book by Debby Irving
How to Be an Antiracist
Book by Ibram X. Kendi