It’s Harmony Day again…

What’s not to love about harmony? 

Well, nothing. Harmony is wonderful.

Harmony Day is also a good time to ask: how are anti-bias and anti-racist pedagogies woven through our curriculum every day, not just today? What is the difference between harmony and anti-racism?

Introduced in 1999 on the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Harmony Day was a Howard Government initiative to celebrate multiculturalism and harmony, while simultaneously turning away from acknowledging and addressing racism in Australia.

Anti-bias approaches, which are the foundation of the Early Years Learning Framework, give us the tools to grapple with how to approach both Harmony Day and anti-racism within our curriculum.

The third anti-bias goal is: each child and educator will increasingly recognise unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts themselves and others.

The fourth anti-bias goal is: each child and educator will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others of alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions.

For children and educators to develop these anti-bias skills and dispositions takes more than one day, and a lot of ongoing reflection within your team.

You could ask, how might the children, families and educators within our service experience racism? For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, many Asian Australians experienced racist threats or attacks.

You could also ask, how might children (especially those from the dominant white, anglo-saxon cultural group) be encouraged to recognise and act against racial bias and racial discrimination? For example, what books and other resources could be helpful springboards for discussion?

How will you nurture children’s empowerment in acting against prejudice and discrimination? Perhaps you could share stories of powerful and successful social movements. For example, Adam Briggs’ children’s book Our Home, Our Heartbeat tells the stories of many Aboriginal artists, athletes and social justice activists.

Don’t let Harmony Day mean only orange t-shirts and handprint art. Instead, let it propel your anti-bias and anti-racist curriculum forward, today and every day!

Reflective questions:

  • In your setting, how does the learning environment, your teaching strategies, and your modes of communication support or hold back an anti-racist curriculum?
  • What current, recent or historical world events impact children’s, families’ and educators’ relationship to racism?
  • How would you challenge a child who did not want to play with another child because of the colour of their skin?
  • How are Indigenous cosmologies and histories privileged in your curriculum?

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