PUBLISHED: Monday, February 17, 2020 by JO

Michael Haggood


Michael took the time to talk with us about his forthcoming book, fighting gender bias, and empowering children.

Michael Alan Haggood, EdD, is currently a principal in the Los Angeles Unified School District at Crescent Heights and Marvin Early Education Centers. He is also a professor with National University where he instructs professional educators on a variety of subjects to strengthen their practice.

What motivated you to write a book about the empowerment of young children?

The motivation to write a book about the empowerment of young children originated from my University instruction with adults. As an adjunct professor at National University, I would often find myself telling various stories of my educational successes and struggles. I realized from the reaction of the students (future ECE professionals) that these stories held value for them. Many would ask questions for clarification and would seek strategies for solving each or several dilemmas within each story. Their interest solidified in me that this book is needed.

What values are important for parents and educators to remember when empowering young children?

It is important for parents and educators to remember when empowering children that encouragement is powerful. Children are sponge-like and your positive words can last a lifetime and build the character, skills and behavior you desire for them. Starting with the youngest ones, we have the opportunity through mirroring (modeling, reflection) to build a strong foundation that will stand for a lifetime.

What is the relationship between giving and empowerment?

Another educational colleague told me once that up until third grade children are “learning to read”. After third grade, we are expecting them to “read to learn”. The relationship between giving and empowerment is connected in the same way. Teachers give of themselves to empower children. The relationship shifts when a teacher is “empowered to serve”, and becomes “serving to empower”.

What can parents, educators, and children do to combat gender bias and discrimination?

Gender bias and discrimination are plagues, which cripple our society. Parents, educators, and children can support the eradication of these ills by “calling it out” when it occurs. Discussing bias and discrimination is difficult for adults and can be even more daunting when discussing with children.

  • Create a safe space for conversations to occur
  • Point out disparities in television, books and other real-life situations
  • Respond to questions from children about differences naturally as they occur

Gender bias and discrimination are learned over time. Conversely, have discussions that are open and ongoing. Lastly, parents and educators should challenge their own assumptions and behavior.

  • Do you participate in silence or laughter at an insensitive joke?
  • Do you manifest acts of avoidance based on particular groups of people?
  • Do you assign chores, roles and responsibilities based on gender bias?

Finally, these opportunities to address fears and correct misperceptions help all of us and especially children understand the value of diversity. Discussing differences helps children appreciate diversity and recognize discrimination.

What benefits can be seen in children who are empowered?

Empowerment benefits physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. It is important that children feel empowered for who they are. It will build confidence and an affirming self–identity, which allows children to be more independent. Empowered children have built the ability to make choices and problem solve for the best outcomes. Consequently, they feel more active and value their full potential as productive citizens. This valued voice allows them to claim their rights and advocate for positivity in the world.

What benefits can be seen in families and communities?

When children feel empowered, there are a variety of benefits to families and communities. Children who feel empowered value their gifts and thus, get involved and are willing to participate. This involvement becomes embedded within the family, community and even organizational culture. In turn, adults are more responsive and communicative to children.

Published: February 17, 2020