Being an early childhood educator can sometimes be an isolating experience. Yes, we are surrounded by a limitless source of families and children, each with their own experiences and perspectives to share, but in terms of colleagues, our experiences can be less broad. If you are lucky enough to secure a permanent position in an early education service you may work alongside the same educators for years. The relationships you build with these colleagues, and the professional development that occurs, can depend on so many factors including the centre’s director, policies, funding, and even location. Casual educators may have experience with a broader range of colleagues, but less chance to build meaningful relationships with families, children and colleagues alike. Luckily, unlike our primary and high school teacher brethren, early childhood educators are much more likely to work directly alongside at least one other educator each day, broadening our perspectives and knowledge of teaching methods and practices.
But what happens when a fellow educator says something you do not agree with personally, whether to you, a child, or a child’s family? What if you observe a behaviour you do not understand? What if you come across a family dynamic you and your colleagues have never experienced before? What if enrolled families participate in celebrations you have never even heard of, let alone know how to incorporate in your service? What if an enrolled child experiences an impairment with which you have no experience? What if you hear a child, colleague or parent share views that are sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, intolerant or just plain offensive? As an educator, it is highly likely that moral dilemmas such as these will arise, at least occasionally, in your career. In my 10 years in the profession so far, I have experienced many dilemmas similar to these, and no, you do not always have the answers, and neither do your colleagues.
Reading The Anti-Bias Approach in Early Childhood is an experience akin to meeting fellow educators from across the country and the globe. Reading the experiences, perspectives, suggestions and opinions it holds provides you with an understanding of others that you cannot gain from your colleagues in a single workplace alone. Red Ruby Scarlet has lovingly compiled these stories, including her own, into something that can benefit every educator. I challenge all educators, teachers, assistants, students, directors and volunteers to read this text and consider the perspectives you have never thought of, discover practices that change lives, and knowledge you have not yet learnt. I challenge all of you to read this text and tell me you knew it all already… because it is simply not possible.
I have been an educator for 10 years, diploma trained for the majority of this time. I have read articles on a myriad of social issues, I have attended and enjoyed professional development, I have worked alongside colleagues from a range of backgrounds at a handful of centres, I have dabbled in activism and worked with our union, I have begun studying for my Bachelor degree and met a diverse range of future educators. I did not know, or even previously consider, everything contained in this book. Not even close.
Each chapter of The Anti-Bias Approach in Early Childhood is a story of its own, and each story is meaningful and steeped in personal experiences. From Cologon, Niland, Salvador, Mackenzie and Artinian’s exploration of children who experience disability in early childhood, to Barclay’s reflections on equity in the everyday situations we face as educators, to the several thought-provoking Acknowledgements of Country, to Huntley’s hauntingly beautiful reflection on a lifetime of advocacy and activism; this text can provide new perspectives to all future and current educators, I am sure of it. So, thank you to Dr Scarlet and all the contributing authors for providing me with something I can reach for whenever I want to consider perspectives outside my own, whenever I am considering how to broaden or adapt my practices, whenever there is a concept or perspective that I wish to explain or share with my colleagues, and to be perfectly honest, whenever I need a really good quote for an essay!
Scarlet, R. R. (Ed). (2016). The Anti-Bias Approach in Early Childhood (3rd ed.). Erskineville: MultiVerse Publishing.