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October 11, 2019


What is "Implicit Bias"?
According to The Ohio State University Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity - 

"Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner." They are "harbored in our subconscious and cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. These associations develop over the course of a lifetime beginning at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages."
 
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Implicit Bias: From Awareness to Positive Change 

"Children rise to the expectations of the adults in their environment, whether it's negative or positive." 
- Dr. Rosemarie Allen

The second Early Childhood Advantage Symposium - organized by the Great Start for Great Futures Coalition - showcased nationally known author, researcher and professor, Dr. Rosemarie Allen, as the keynote speaker. Her presentation, "Implicit Bias: From Awareness to Positive Change" detailed how bias (see sidebar) has an impact on relationships, communication, classroom teaching and students. 

Using personal stories, Dr. Allen led Symposium participants (nearly 500 early childhood educators from 54 preschools, administrators and Stark County community leaders) to develop a deeper appreciation of the importance of talking about race, bias in general and seeing that "being aware is halfway there". Many commented how Dr. Allen helped them see the importance of "owning their own bias" and that "we are all biased - it's stopping, recognizing and evaluating that matters."

Dr. Allen addressed the importance of learning about cultural differences and how they may lead to miscommunication. "Dr. Allen told us it's ok to talk about race" said one participant, and that "we need to take time to get to know people and their culture in order to better understand them."

When dealing with challenging behaviors, Dr. Allen urged everyone to remember that young children have only been on the earth a brief amount of time, and like adults, are often dealing with big emotions and issues. "You don't know what they've gone through in their short lives," commented one person. "I learned that kids often act out to communicate an underlying problem, and we have to take time to see WHY the child is behaving in that way," noted another participant. 

The 2019 Symposium also featured two additional speakers: Melissa McClain of Akron Children's Hospital who spoke on Trauma in Early Learning and David Kisor with Growing Sound who presented Songs for Emerging Character Strengths.
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The Stark Education Partnership - a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in Stark County, Ohio -  is a catalyst, engaging and collaborating with education, business, civic and community stakeholders to drive sustainable improvement and innovation to provide all students with education and career success.  

 
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