The following resources are helpful for early-childhood education teacher training. They can be used to stimulate discussion and critical thinking and some contain practical examples for classroom use:
by Louise Derman Sparks and Julie Olsen Edwards
Kids like Us
by Trisha Whitney
This book introduces the “persona doll method” – an excellent tool for stimulating discussion in the classroom about issues such as stereotyping, exclusion, diversity etc. The teacher creates a realistic biography for a special handmade doll that is not used as a typical toy – but rather is introduced into the classroom as a friend and brought into special circle discussions by the teacher on a regular basis. Care is taken to include different aspects of diversity relevant to the children in the group when formulating the biography. The book gives hundreds of practical examples, directly from the classroom, of facilitating children to identify emotions, solve problems and increase empathy. The book can be bought online at Amazon. You can also learn more about this method, and order dolls from the Persona Dolls Training website. They also have a rich resource section, with many useful books and DVDs. In particular, the DVD “Storytelling to make a Difference” shows many examples of utilizing the persona doll method in the classroom, with feedback from the teachers as well.
Index for Inclusion
by Tony Booth and Mel Ainscow
The Index for Inclusion by Tony Booth and Mel Ainsow is concerned with promoting values-led development for schools, kindergarten and other educational settings. It sees inclusion broadly as concerned with putting inclusive values into action and through its 70 indicators and 2,000 questions relates its values framework to the fine detail of settings and the activities within them. The most recent edition has been written by Tony Booth and can be obtained by writing to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available from the Index for Inclusion Network at indexforinclusion.org
This comprehensive resource offers an important tool for critical reflection to school communities that are seeking to improve their inclusiveness. It offers guidance in developing an inclusive school development plan, and offers a list of indicators that help to paint a clear picture of what an optimally inclusive environment would look like. It is designed to stimulate discussion between stakeholders rather than as a checklist.
Recent movements, such as “Gross National Happiness”, or the “Happy Planet Index” have shown the importance of “measuring what matters.” The process of doing so, helps us to define more clearly the future we are seeking to create. Clear goals and clear vision lead to better outcomes.
Ted Talk: The Happy Planet Index
This Ted Talk, by Nic Marks further elaborates on the importance of having positive visions of change – with very interesting implications for the ecological movement as well. He begins his talk by saying that Martin Luther King, when inspiring the civil rights movement, did not start out his famous speech with “I have a nightmare” but rather with “I have a dream.”
More and more people are becoming aware of the need to emphasize well-being in early childhood education, rather than only looking at standard cognitive developmental benchmarks. This organization “Learning for Well-Being” shares many Neohumanist values.
“A Class Divided”
The following video, “A Class Divided” is a documentary about a controversial experiment that a 2nd grade teacher, Jane Elliot, did in 1968, immediately after the shooting of Martin Luther King, in order to sensitize her students to racism by creating an experience of discrimination. The students were interviewed many years later as adults, and all of them felt it was an important life-changing experience that they wish more children could have so that they could learn to empathize with people that experience discrimination.
Videos by Proinfirmis
The Swiss organization, Proinfirmis, has produced several touching videos designed to help shift the way people view those with disabilities: