Starting from the Beginning: Teaching Social Justice in Early Childhood



In 2005, Kiri Davis re-created an experiment from the 1940s. In the experiment, children are given a black doll and a white doll and say which doll they prefer and why. Davis asked 21 African American children what they thought of the two dolls. 15 of the children said that the white dolls were “good and pretty” and the black dolls were “bad and ugly (1)."Clearly, work needs to be done.

Davis’ experiment was an anomaly. In the United States, teachers give little or no attention to sociocultural or sociopolitical issues. Often teachers don’t know about diversity and the issues connected to it. This is a great disservice to students everywhere, especially young children (1).

Early childhood education is supposed to give resources and opportunities, as well as promote children's’ chance to thrive (2). Educators can take a more active stance for good. If they do not, they may continue oppression with good intentions. Educators need to educate themselves on discrimination. Young children pick up on messages from the community, as well as television, books, and their peers. So education needs to be done even when a child’s parents value diversity. Children realize that society isn’t perfectly integrated, so educators need to stress the importance of diversity. Educators should provide multicultural books, pictures, resources, and activities. These materials should show people of color and other minorities in positive and non-stereotypical roles (1).

Most Americans don’t have opportunities to talk about diversity or do actions to promote diversity, so it is crucial that teachers use time in the classroom to talk about the benefits of having many people with different backgrounds (1).

Students should be taught to learn critical thinking and embrace curiosity. Students should also be proud of who they are and where they come from. Teachers should strive to be good examples to students. They should create challenging curricula that teaches children about social justice.

One way to promote social justice in the classroom is though anti-bias education. There are four main goals of anti-bias education. The first is that children will have self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities. The second is to uphold the belief that diversity is good, as well as using appropriate language when discussing diversity and human connections. The third is that children will understand unfairness, know how to talk about it, and understand that it is harmful. The fourth goal is that children will know how to stand up against prejudice and discrimination. Anti-bias education pays attention to children’s own abilities and talents. This is rooted in an emphasis on justice, wanting children to achieve all they can and make a difference (2).

For violence to end, children need to learn how hostility between two groups start(1). Children need to learn how they can make a difference by being kind to one another and fair to all. Children are the future, so it is crucial that we educate them in social justice.

Works Cited:

1.)https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gloria_Boutte/publication/254351137_Beyond_the_Illusion_of_Diversity_How_Early_Childhood_Teachers_Can_Promote_Social_Justice/links/5512c9810cf270fd7e337508.pdf

2.) “Anti-Bias Education” National Association for the Education for Young Children. http://www.naeyc.org/anti-bias-education


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