Project

Can we talk about race? Confronting Colour Blindness in Early Childhood Settings

Goal: We are employing the framework of Critical Race Theory in this qualitative research project as well as the “new’ sociology of childhood in order to address questions such as: What strategies or materials do early childhood educators (ECEs) use to discuss (or not discuss) race with children? What discourses about race and racial identities are employed by ECES and by children? How does race factor into children’s play? Who benefits from the use of certain discourses, and who is disadvantaged? And further, how could conversations about race foster cross-racial dialogues that can support positive citizenship engagement in an increasingly global and diverse society?

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Project log

Rachel Berman
added a research item
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is based on the premise that race is a social construct and that race-based belief systems are visible in all parts of our social life. With regard to children and childhood, although there is work that takes up anti-racist and anti-bias approaches to pedagogy, and children’s play for example, very little attention has been paid to CRT by people working in the area of early childhood, however, CRT has been taken up more widely by education scholars and teachers in the field of K-12 education. This entry will provide a brief history and background of CRT and outline some key tenets of CRT with an eye to early childhood. Because this theory began in the United States, much of what is discussed in this entry is U.S. based, however, there are CRT scholars working elsewhere (in the U.K. and Canada for example).
Rachel Berman
added an update
The team continues to disseminate our findings and engage in discussions of the methods taken up in the project. These are some of the symposiums and conferences we have been part of:
-Canadian Sociological Association at Congress for H&SS, UBC, Vancouver, BC, June 2019
-American Educational Research Association, Critical ECE SIG-Toronto, April, 2019
-Youngsters2- Ryerson University, Toronto, May 2019 http://arcyp.ca/youngsters-2
-Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group of the American Anthropology Association, Rutgers University, N.J., March, 2019
-International Sociology Association Conference, Toronto, July 2018
-Ontario Ministry of Education, 12th Annual Ontario Education Research Symposium, Toronto, March, 2018
-Reconceptulatizing Early Childhood Education Conference, Toronto, October 2017
-Canadian Association for Research on Early Childhood at Congress (CAREC, part of CSSA), Ryerson University, Toronto, May 2017
-Anti-Black racism conference, Ryerson University, Toronto, February 2017
-Decolonizing the mind conference, OISE/UT, November 2016
 
Rachel Berman
added a research item
div class="page" title="Page 1"> Psychological research on Canadian children and race has shown that young White and racialized children generally have a pro-White bias. While scholars have utilized developmental or social psychological explanations for this finding, none have used an antiracism lens to interpret children’s racial attitudes or to develop an antiracism pedagogy. To address this research gap, this article uses antiracism theory as an analytical tool to explore the social-historical processes that have affected how children evaluate racial differences and White identity. It also briefly proposes antiracism teaching practices specific to early childhood education settings. </div
Rachel Berman
added a research item
This article focuses on 11 in-depth semi-structured interviews with early childhood educators who responded to a question about reporting racial incidents as a ‘Serious Occurrence’ under guidelines mandated by the City of Toronto Children’s Services Division. We draw on critical race theory and colorblind theory in a discursive analysis of participants’ narratives. Results of this analysis suggest that participating early childhood professionals were reluctant to name and acknowledge incidents of racism in early learning environments, and engaged in discursive strategies that minimized and negated such incidents. Implications for the training and education of early childhood educators are noted and implications for provincial policy are discussed.
Rachel Berman
added a research item
This article explores how multicultural policy approaches, which mandate the inclusion of culturally and ethnically ‘diverse’ play materials in early childhood classrooms influence the pedagogical practice of educators and, in turn, children’s play and social interactions. Using data collected through participant observation of children’s play in a preschool/kindergarten classroom, interviews with early childhood professionals, and document analysis of a particular early years policy, we highlight the shortcomings of the focus on physical materials as the primary strategy for addressing ‘race’ and other forms of difference in early childhood education. Assumptions about children’s play are examined and critiqued, with examples of children’s play episodes provided to emphasize how play reproduces systems of power and oppression present in the broader social context. A number of recommendations are offered for both professional practice and the reconceptualization of early childhood policy.
Rachel Berman
added an update
The team will be presenting on our research in a workshop for educators at the Educating for Peace and Justice Conference: Action for Safe and Equitable Classrooms, Schools and Communities on Saturday, January 21st 2017 at the Ontario Institute for Education/University of Toronto.
 
Rachel Berman
added a project goal
We are employing the framework of Critical Race Theory in this qualitative research project as well as the “new’ sociology of childhood in order to address questions such as: What strategies or materials do early childhood educators (ECEs) use to discuss (or not discuss) race with children? What discourses about race and racial identities are employed by ECES and by children? How does race factor into children’s play? Who benefits from the use of certain discourses, and who is disadvantaged? And further, how could conversations about race foster cross-racial dialogues that can support positive citizenship engagement in an increasingly global and diverse society?