Anti-bias curriculum

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The anti-bias curriculum is an activist approach to educational curricula which attempts to challenge prejudices such as racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, weightism, homophobia, classism, colorism, heightism, handism, religious discrimination and other forms of kyriarchy. The approach is favoured by civil rights organisations such as the Anti-Defamation League.[1]

The anti-racist curriculum is part of a wider social constructivist movement in the various societies of the Western World, where many scientific worldviews are seen as manifestations of Western cultures who enjoy a privileged position over societies from the "Global South",[2] along with claiming that there is a sociocultural aspect to education, i.e. that the studies of these subjects in Western societies have usually exhibited racial and cultural bias,[3] and that they focus too much on "dead white men", especially in mathematics.[4][note 1]


The anti-bias movement was born out of the multiculturalism movement.[clarification needed] 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 stated objectives of the anti-bias curriculum are to raise awareness of bias and to reduce bias.[citation needed] 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. Such curriculums claim to allow the student to see the "whole view" 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 with the intent of reducing social oppression with the ultimate goal of "social justice" in mind.[1]


Margaret Thatcher, in a speech made during the Conservative Party Conference of 1987, referred to "hard left education authorities and extremist teachers" teaching "anti-racist mathematics—whatever that may be."[5][6][note 2] and later on in 2005, Fox News carried a story detailing "The 'anti-racist education' program in place at Newton Public Schools."[7]

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.[4] An anti-racist approach to mathematics education could include any or all of the following:

American mathematics instructor Shahid Muhammed has suggested that poor mathematics performance among African Americans is linked to higher anxiety caused by negative stereotyping; as he states that many associate mathematics with middle-class white people.[10]

Designing a curriculum[edit]

Advocates claim there are two parts to an educational curriculum:

  • The "formal curriculum", which consists of the educational content, expectations, course materials (e.g. textbooks), evaluation, and instruction.
  • The "hidden curriculum", which 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 the dominant culture upon ethnic minorities(e.g. chosen holiday celebration, monetary norms, social 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 via their curricula. 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.


There has been criticism of aspects of anti-bias curriculum. Eastern Washington University professor Deirdre Almeida has stated that most anti-bias cirricula omit the contributions of non-African ethnic groups, such as Native Americans, Inuit and Alaska Natives. Almeida has claimed that portrayals of Native Americans in anti-bias material conflate actual aboriginal practices with invented, obsolete or erroneous ideas about Native American culture.[11]

Other critics, such as University of Tennessee professor J. Amos Hatch, have claimed that some anti-bias curricula can be construed as actively or passively adopting an anti-European/western racial bias, seeking to minimize contributions of ethnic Europeans in favor of other ethnic groups. Hatch has stated that this ideology has produced "anti-bias" curricula that is overtly biased against people of European descent or in favor of people of African descent.[12]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ See ethnomathematics.
  2. ^ See loony left for more context of this stereotype.


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ Ending Academic Imperialism: a Beginning", C. K. Raju
  3. ^ "Is Science Western in Origin?", C. K. Raju
  4. ^ a b Joseph, George Gheverghese. "The politics of anti-racist mathematics." European Education 26.1 (1994): 67-74.
  5. ^ Thatcher, Margaret (9 October 1987). "Speech to Conservative Party Conference". Margaret Thatcher Foundation. Retrieved 4 May 2015. And in the inner cities—where youngsters must have a decent education if they are to have a better future—that opportunity is all too often snatched from them by hard left education authorities and extremist teachers. And children who need to be able to count and multiply are learning anti-racist mathematics—whatever that may be.
  6. ^ Anna S. King; Michael Jonathan Reiss (1993). The Multicultural Dimension of the National Curriculum (illustrated, reprint ed.). ISBN 9780750700696. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  7. ^ "'Anti-Racist' Message in Mass. Math Class". Fox News. 8 February 2005. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  8. ^ Ramesh Gangolli. "Asian Contributions to Mathematics" (PDF). Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  9. ^ Kennedy, Leonard; Tipps, Steve; Johnson, Art (2007). "Guiding Children's Learning of Mathematics". Cengage Learning.
  10. ^ Pitre, Abul; Pitre, Esrom; Ray, Ruth; Hilton-Pitre, Twana (15 August 2009). Educating African American Students: Foundations, Curriculum, and Experiences (illustrated ed.). R&L Education. ISBN 9781607092346. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  11. ^ Countering Prejudice against American Indians and Alaska Natives through Antibias Curriculum and Instruction. ERIC Digest.
  12. ^ J. Amos Hatch, Qualitative Research in Early Childhood Settings Archived May 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine


Further reading[edit]

  • 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.