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How ‘twisted’ early childhood education has become — from a child development expert

+1 vote
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Photo Source: washingtonpost.com

By Valerie Strauss

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/11/24/how-twisted-early-childhood-education-has-become-from-a-child-development-expert/?utm_term=.e5c53c678eec

Nancy Carlsson-Paige is an early childhood development expert who has been at the forefront of the debate on how best to educate — and not educate — the youngest students. She is a professor emerita of education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Ma., where she taught teachers for more than 30 years and was a founder of the university’s Center for Peaceable Schools. She is also a founding member of a nonprofit called Defending the Early Years, which commissions research about early childhood education and advocates for sane policies for young children.

Carlsson-Paige is author of “Taking Back Childhood.” The mother of two artist sons, Matt and Kyle Damon, she is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Legacy Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps for work over several decades on behalf of children and families. She was just given the Deborah Meier award by the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

In her speech accepting the award (named after the renowned educator Deborah Meier), Carlsson-Paige describes what has happened in the world of early childhood education in the current era of high-stakes testing, saying, “Never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen the situation we find ourselves in today.” Here’s the speech, which I am publishing with permission:

 

 Thank you FairTest for this Deborah Meier Hero in Education Award. FairTest does such great advocacy and education around fair and just testing practices. This award carries the name of one of my heroes in education, Deborah Meier—she’s a force for justice and democracy in education. I hope that every time this award is given, it will allow us to once again pay tribute to Deb. Also, I feel privileged to be accepting this honor alongside Lani Guinier.

When I was invited to be here tonight, I thought about the many people who work for justice and equity in education who could also be standing here. So I am thinking of all of them now and I accept this award on their behalf — all the educators dedicated to children and what’s fair and best for them.

It’s wonderful to see all of you here — so many family and friends, comrades in this struggle to reclaim excellent public education for all – not just some – of our children.

I have loved my life’s work – teaching teachers about how young children think, how they learn, how they develop socially, emotionally, morally. I’ve been fascinated with the theories and science of my field and seeing it expressed in the actions and the play of children.

So never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen the situation we find ourselves in today.

Where education policies that do not reflect what we know about how young children learn could be mandated and followed. We have decades of research in child development and neuroscience that tell us that young children learn actively — they have to move, use their senses, get their hands on things, interact with other kids and teachers, create, invent. But in this twisted time, young children starting public pre-K at the age of 4 are expected to learn through “rigorous instruction.”

And never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that we would have to defend children’s right to play.

Play is the primary engine of human growth; it’s universal – as much as walking and talking. Play is the way children build ideas and how they make sense of their experience and feel safe. Just look at all the math concepts at work in the intricate buildings of kindergartners. Or watch a 4-year-old put on a cape and pretend to be a superhero after witnessing some scary event.

But play is disappearing from classrooms. Even though we know play is learning for young kids, we are seeing it shoved aside to make room for academic instruction and “rigor.”

I could not have foreseen in my wildest dreams that we would have to fight for classrooms for young kids that are developmentally appropriate. Instead of active, hands-on learning, children now sit in chairs for far too much time getting drilled on letters and numbers. Stress levels are up among young kids. Parents and teachers tell me: children worry that they don’t know the right answers; they have nightmares, they pull out their eyelashes, they cry because they don’t want to go to school. Some people call this child abuse and I can’t disagree.

I could not have foreseen in my wildest dreams that we would be up against pressure to test and assess young kids throughout the year often in great excess — often administering multiple tests to children in kindergarten and even pre-K. Now, when young children start school, they often spend their first days not getting to know their classroom and making friends. They spend their first days getting tested. Here are words from one mother as this school year began:

“My daughter’s first day of kindergarten — her very first introduction to elementary school — consisted almost entirely of assessment. She was due at school at 9:30, and I picked her up at 11:45. In between, she was assessed by five different teachers, each a stranger, asking her to perform some task.

“By the time I picked her up, she did not want to talk about what she had done in school, but she did say that she did not want to go back. She did not know the teachers’ names. She did not make any friends. Later that afternoon, as she played with her animals in her room, I overheard her drilling them on their numbers and letters.”

The most important competencies in young children can’t be tested—we all know this. Naming letters and numbers is superficial and almost irrelevant in relation to the capacities we want to help children develop: self-regulation, problem solving ability, social and emotional competence, imagination, initiative, curiosity, original thinking — these capacities make or break success in school and life and they can’t be reduced to numbers.

Yet these days, all the money and resources, the time dedicated to professional development, they go to tooling teachers up to use the required assessments. Somehow the data gleaned from these tests is supposed to be more valid than a teacher’s own ability to observe children and understand their skills in the context of their whole development in the classroom.

The first time I saw for myself what was becoming of many of the nation’s early childhood classrooms was when I visited a program in a low-income community in north Miami. Most of the children were on free- and reduced-price lunch.

There were 10 classrooms – kindergarten and pre-K. The program’s funding depended on test scores, so — no surprise — teachers taught to the test. Kids who got low scores, I was told, got extra drills in reading and math and didn’t get to go to art. They used a computer program to teach 4- and 5-year-olds how to “bubble.” One teacher complained to me that some children go outside the lines.

In one of the kindergartens I visited, the walls were barren and so was the whole room. The teacher was testing one little boy at a computer at the side of the room. There was no classroom aide. The other children were sitting at tables copying words from the chalk board. The words were: “No talking. Sit in your seat. Hands to Yourself.”

The teacher kept shouting at them from her testing corner: Be quiet! No talking!

Most of the children looked scared or disengaged, and one little boy was sitting alone. He was quietly crying. I will never forget how these children looked or how it felt to watch them, I would say, suffering in this context that was such a profound mismatch with their needs.

It’s in low-income, under-resourced communities like this one where children are most subjected to heavy doses of teacher-led drills and tests. Not like in wealthier suburbs where kids have the opportunity to go to early childhood programs that have play, the arts, and project-based learning. It’s poverty — the elephant in the room — that is the root cause of this disparity.

A few months ago, I was alarmed to read a report from the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights showing that more than 8,000 children from public preschools across the country were suspended at least once in a school year, many more than once. First of all, who suspends a preschooler? Why and for what? The very concept is bizarre and awful. But 8,000? And then to keep reading the report to see that a disproportionate number of those suspended preschoolers were low income, black boys.

There is a connection, I know, between these suspensions and ed reform policies: Children in low-income communities are enduring play deficient classrooms where they get heavy doses of direct teaching and testing. They have to sit still, be quiet in their seats and comply. Many young children can’t do this and none should have to.

I came home from that visit to the classrooms in North Miami in despair. But fortunately, the despair turned quickly to organizing. With other educators we started our nonprofit Defending the Early Years. We have terrific early childhood leaders with us (some are here tonight: Deb Meier, Geralyn McLaughlin, Diane Levin and Ayla Gavins). We speak in a unified voice for young children.

We publish reports, write op eds, make videos and send them out on YouTube, we speak and do interviews every chance we get.

We’ve done it all on a shoestring. It’s almost comical: The Gates Foundation has spent more than $200 million just to promote the Common Core. Our budget at Defending the Early Years is .006 percent of that.

We collaborate with other organizations. FairTest has been so helpful to us. And we also collaborate with –Network for Public Education, United Opt Out, many parent groups, Citizens for Public Schools, Badass Teachers, Busted Pencils Radio, Save Our Schools, Alliance for Childhood and ECE PolicyWorks —There’s a powerful network out there – of educators, parents and students — and we see the difference we are making.

We all share a common vision: Education is a human right and every child deserves one. An excellent, free education where learning is meaningful – with arts, play, engaging projects, and the chance to learn citizenship skills so that children can one day participate — actively and consciously – in this increasingly fragile democracy.

 

posted Sep 18 by Gowri Vimalan

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+1 vote

BENGALURU: The Right to Education Act, which Karnataka started implementing from 2012, completed five years on Friday. But experts and RTE activists believe the system has become a profitable venture instead of championing equal education.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/rte-has-become-a-profitable-venture-say-experts/articleshow/58740881.cms

At a public consultation organized at Mahaveer Jain College here, activists and educationists reviewed RTE implementation and challenges in the state. The implementation seems to be focused on Section 19, which mandates free and fair education up to class 8, and ignores other important sections dealing with provisions that schools need to have.

According to a report by  Narasimha G Rao, state convener, RTE Task Force: "Parents are unaware of not only the provisions but the act itself. They are promised quality education and basic facilities, which aren't available in government schools, but once they join private institutions, they are still made to pay excessively for activities that aren't even conducted."  

"Public awareness is important because if parents and NGOs raise their voice against the system, only then action will be taken," Rao felt.

+2 votes

 

 

The Right to Education Act, which Karnataka started implementing from 2012, completed five years on Friday. But experts and RTE activists believe the system has become a profitable venture instead of championing equal eduhttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/rte-has-become-a-profitable-venture-say-experts/articleshow/58740881.cmscation.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/rte-has-become-a-profitable-venture-say-experts/articleshow/58740881.cms

 

BENGALURU: The Right to Education Act, which Karnataka started implementing from 2012, completed five years on Friday. But experts and RTE activists believe the system has become a profitable venture instead of championing equal education.

At a public consultation organized at Mahaveer Jain College here, activists and educationists reviewed RTE implementation and challenges in the state. The implementation seems to be focussed on Section 19, which mandates free and fair education up to class 8, and ignores other important sections dealing with provisions that schools need to have.

According to a report by Nagasimha G Rao, state convenor, RTE Task Force: "Parents are unaware of not only the provisions but the act itself. They are promised quality education and basic facilities, which aren't available in government schools, but once they join private institutions, they are still made to pay excessively for activities that aren't even conducted."


  • Reports presented by BOSCO, an organization that has been empowering street children since 37 years, highlights the multiple reasons which deter children from joining government schools. Some of them are: Lack of toilets, poor faculty and infrastructure and negative opinion of parents about government schools.

    Y Mariswamy, spokesperson of the Karnataka State Child Rights Organization, said: "In the five years of RTE in Karnataka, 3 lakh children have depended on the act to gain admission to government schools. While the education department prides itself on this number, it shows the inefficiency of government schools, which has resulted in parents depending on admission to private schools."

    "Public awareness is important because if parents and NGOs raise their voice against the system, only then action will be taken," Rao felt.

     
+2 votes

                                                                   

Photo source: www.yourmodernfamily.com

Have you ever wondered how to un-spoil a child?  I know that this can be hard, because you don’t even realize that it is happening and then BAM… you hear the disrespect in your child’s voice and realize that you need to STOP doing that for your child!

by-Becky Mansfield

http://www.yourmodernfamily.com/how-to-un-spoil-a-child/​

With this post in mind, I asked this question to the parents in my local ‘moms-group’ and their answers were fantastic!  I know that this can be quite a challenge for many parents, so I hope that this gives you just the boost of confidence and knowledge that you need to unspoiled your child!   Remember that while spoiling your child CAN happen by giving them too much without any appreciation, it can also just be that your child is not respectful of others or of things.    Hopefully, we can change that and raise our kids to be responsible, respectful adults…

FIRST OFF- GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK FOR TAKING THIS STEP!  This was the hardest part… admitting that your child is spoiled or disrespectful.

We don’t intend to have spoiled kids – it’s just the day & age that lends itself so easily to that, you know?  According to a recent study,  “A vast majority of parents — 94 percent, according to a recent survey — judge their children to be spoiled.” says Dr. Bromfield.

There are great deals on cool things that we know they will love.  We love to see them smile so we give them things that will make them happy, not even realizing that we are turning them into ungrateful people – people that expect it.   That’s Ok- because today is the day that we start the UN-SPOILING!

1. Be consistent
This is the key to success, in my opinion.  I saw this when I was a teacher, I see it as a play therapist and I see it as a mom.   Consistency is the key.  Every time that they ___, they get ___.  (ex: every time that they talk back to you, they get put into time out.)

2. Use the when–>>then method.
When you ____ then you ____.   (When you have done your chores, then you can play on your iPod. )

3. Set expectations.
Give your child a run-down of the day, if possible.  Let them know what to expect.
“We will be going to the store today.  You will not be buying anything.  If you ask for something while we are there, I will be taking away electronics for the remainder of the day.  I will have to do this because I am telling you RIGHT NOW that we are going to the store for groceries and nothing else.  Do you understand?”   You are simply telling them ahead of time and asking them to respect what you say.

4. Stop buying unnecessary things for your child.
Your child might ask you for things or you might buy un-needed things because they are:
– cute
– on-sale  (this is what usually gets me!) 
– fun
– educational
Your child does not need them.  While it is nice to buy them things and you feel like you are helping, you need to take a step back and ask yourself if you are teaching them that they can have whatever they want before you buy it, or ask yourself if they really do need it.  (Plus, when you aren’t constantly buying them things, they will appreciate it more when you do.)

Read More

+3 votes

                                                                                            

Photo Source :   indiatimes.com

Oops, I did it again. Mistakes happen all the time, but are somehow unforgettable when it’s caused by you, the parent. And while this is fun in hindsight, at the time... in the moment, it can get us quite worked up.

Probably because we parents wear the guilt badge all the time; probably because we’re unwitting role models. That said, here are a few parenting blunders to quickly demo what not to do. Some are from friends – most are my own.

Christobelle Joseph

http://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/columns/you/parentry-how-to-avoid-being-a-blunder-man/woman/articleshow/59636229.cms

Great. I got your attention. Now read on.

#1 Swearing. You never know what you’re saying until you hear it mirrored right back in your face. For me, it was once simple and yet, embarrassing. While my daughter and I drove out (with new friends in the backseat, I think), a pedestrian ran across the road and while I braked, she shouted out ‘idiot’. She was four. I have never used that word since. Maybe your repertoire is more extensive? Watch it, stinky mouth.

#2 Discussing people. This, I’m careful with – or smart with my timing – I won’t say which. Why? Because I have experience, first-hand. I once saw a nun who my mum and I had met on an earlier occasion. The minute she was near, I recognised her and shouted out, “Hey mum, there’s the yappy nun. We’ve seen her, now let’s run.” I don’t think the nun was pleased. Or mum.

#3 Evaluating kids. When they’re small, and you’re into ‘good parenting’, it’s easy to buy into good behaviour encouragement tools like charts and points. But remember, kids hold us up to the same standards we apply to them. And, admit it, we don’t measure up.
A few years ago, in a happy moment of mum-daughter time with my (then) fussy child, I got a compliment.

Well, sort of. “I really love you mum,” she told me, “but minus 1 point for all the bad times.”

Read more....
 

+2 votes

 

                                                        

BENGALURU: After steering some of the successful education-related endeavours in Karnataka, three eminent individuals from the state have made it to the new National Education Policy panel.  

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/three-from-karnataka-on-panel-for-new-national-education-policy/articleshow/59330946.cms

The panel, set up by the Union ministry of human resources, will be headed by Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, chairman of the Karnataka Knowledge Commission and chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University. A former chairman of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Kasturirangan is also an honorary professor at Jawarharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Research, Bengaluru and is a professor emeritus at National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru.

Former member-secretary of Karnataka State Innovation Council M K Sridhar, who was associated with the Karnataka Knowledge Commission earlier, is also on the panel. He was Professor at Canara Bank School of Management Studies at Bangalore University.

The third panel member from the state is T V Kattimani, language communication expert and vice-chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak. He hails from Koppal district in North Karnataka. Sridhar said that efforts would be made to roll out a strong educational policy.Highlighting the need for changes in the system, Sridhar told TOI, "I am happy that I have been tasked with such an important work. The country's education system needs a lot of changes and as panel members, we will discuss these issues to come out with a strong policy."

The new panel will replace an earlier education policy committee formed by the HRD ministry under former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian a couple of years ago.Sources said inputs from the Subramanian panel report would also be utilised by the new committee.  

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