Anti-bias curriculum  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

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.



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.


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.

The Politics of Anti-Racist Mathematics

Anti-racist mathematics

An example of an "anti-bias curriculum" is anti-racist mathematics, which was addressed by Margaret Thatcher in a speech to the Conservative Party Conference, 1987, which was discussing an alleged conspiracy of "hard left education authorities and extremist teachers," and later on [in 2005], Fox News carried a story detailing "The 'anti-racist education' program in place at Newton Public Schools."

The article The Politics of Anti-Racist Mathematics by George Gheverghese Joseph goes through many different assumptions made by teachers of mathematics that can have a negative effect on students of ethnic minorities. An anti-racist approach to mathematics education could include any or all of the following:

  • Discussion of the mathematical knowledge of ancient civilizations outside of Europe, and non-European contributions to mathematical knowledge and discovery;
  • The avoidance of racial stereotypes or cultural bias in classroom materials, textbooks, coursework topics and examination questions. For example, a wide range of names could be used in word problem questions.

Shahid Muhammed has concluded that poor mathematics performance among African Americans is linked to higher anxiety caused by negative stereotyping: math is seen as catering to middle-class white people.

Designing a curriculum

Advocates claim there are two parts to an educational curriculum:

  • 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.

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.

See also

Pioneers in activism and education

Educating and teaching children

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Anti-bias curriculum" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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