Saturday, September 10, 2011

"My teacher says we have to learn..."

Recently, one of our school's alumni, now a second grader, came along with his Dad to pick up his sister. His Dad said that this boy missed our program, and the boy told me that he "only had a half hour for recess", that the rest was "boring". He explained to me that his teacher told him that, while it might be boring, children had to learn, so they had to sit still and pay attention. There they are in school, then, sitting still, doing boring work, because they "have to learn". No one could have been more articulate about the frustrations of children in school than this boy. He knew intuitively what is well-known in the field: A child who is distracted by his body's need to move, or his mind's need to explore and create, is not going to be able to learn at his/her potential. This is canonical in Early Childhood Education and yet the public schools still insist on treating young learners as if they were "brains on sticks" . Child development is not seen as an important part of a teacher's toolkit. People who graduate from Master's Programs in Education come out with practically no knowledge of how children learn.  This should be an integral part of the Master's program. 

How much more this boy would be learning if the instruction was project-based and developmentally appropriate! But this type of learning is harder to measure for the test-mavens. Let's rally in support of educating young children, including second and third-graders, the way they learn best!