Reflecting on Anti-bias Education in Action: The Early Years

A Film by Debbie LeeKeenan • John Nimmo • Filiz Efe McKinney

The film, Reflecting on Anti-bias Education in Action: The Early Years (48 minutes), produced by Debbie LeeKeenan and John Nimmo,  features vignettes of anti-bias strategies in early childhood classrooms interspersed with teachers reflecting on their practice.  Debbie and John partnered with filmmaker Filiz Efe McKinney of Brave Sprout Productions to create a film that shifts the focus away from the talking heads of experts and on to the voices of teachers committed to equity on a daily basis. By taking viewers into diverse early childhood classrooms, the film seeks to demonstrate the importance of teacher reflection on identity, context, and practice in anti-bias education and provides a much-needed resource for teacher education and professional development.

The film has received numerous awards  including the Silver Prize for Documentary Feature  (2021) in the Social Justice Film Festival and a nomination for  Northwest Regional Emmy® (2022) in the  category of diversity, equity, and inclusion – long form content.

The film can be streamed at the screen image above at no charge for professional development and educational purposes. Please review information about the use of the film. The film has closed captions in English, Spanish, and Chinese (simplified characters) which can be turned on by clicking on the CC button to the bottom right of the screen. A Guidebook (available in Spanish and English) provides additional background and resources, and poses provocations and questions for reflection about each vignette in the film. The Official Trailer (3 minutes) is available for promotional purposes.

There is no “one way” to implement anti-bias education.  The  four anti-bias goals help guide the work.  This approach involves critical thinking and  a deep understanding of the complexity of the issues and the context of your community.  The film is a provocation to generate dialogue about how to bring this approach into your practice. 

Louise Derman-Sparks is the film’s senior advisor. The film’s theoretical and research framework is based on her co-authored books, Anti-Bias Education for Our Children and Ourselves (with Julie Olsen-Edwards and Catherin Goins ) and  Leading Anti-Bias Early Childhood Programs: A Guide for Change (with Debbie LeeKeenan and John Nimmo).

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Anti-bias education places diversity and equity goals at the heart of everything we do in early childhood. We begin by affirming each child and family’s social identities and cultural ways of being. Building on the strengths and knowledge children bring to school, anti-bias teachers seek the active engagement of families and communities. More than a set of curriculum activities, this approach is a commitment to equity and social justice. Anti-bias teachers observe carefully, think critically, and reflect deeply. 

The film is organized around the 4 interrelated goals of anti-bias education, which are relevant to both children and adults. (Derman-Sparks& Edwards, 2020)
Goal 1: Identity:  Demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities.
Goal 2: Diversity: Express comfort and joy with human diversity; accurate language for human differences; and deep, caring human connections.
Goal 3: Justice: Recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.
Goal 4: Action: Demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discrimination.

This film is made possible by a generous grant from the Tyler Rigg Foundation and support from Portland State University.