From The Desk Of The Retired Teacher
Thinking again and so am writing. I am if nothing else pragmatic. I have strong beliefs and feelings about many topics..but as this blog focuses on kids and education that’s where I’ll venture now, to sound off. My gripe, (just so your ears will perk up and you’ll want to read more) is the when, where,why and how to start “teaching” kids to read, pencil and paper tasks and stuff like that. Many pundits have written dissertations on this topic..many more lucid than me.. and truthfully I am more in the camp of @TheTeacherTom @DEY_Project and @NAEYC proponents of play as the conduit to learning in the early years.
In the ideal world of education there wouldn’t even be a question of banned books, of excluding kids and their clubs because you don’t agree; of hostile environments that make teaching and learning an insurmountable challenge created by people who’ve never been in a classroom!
In an ideal world the measure of a human is not based on test scores, nor on IQs, but on the challenges they’ve overcome to where they are now!
In an ideal world we hear other voices and listen, to understand and learn. In an ideal world students’ interests are encouraged, not ignored. In a ideal world, the push to get to the finish line is set by the individual who’s delineated that journey for themselves. In an ideal world when we say there’s no rush..find the best way for you, we really mean it!!
In an ideal world we know that play is the field of learning to be encouraged, not squashed.
Now go back to the first paragraph. We have come along way in education over the years. Not to the “ideal” of course, but an awareness that change is necessary and how to reach those goals. So with heavy heart, about this, for me, is that young children are bombarded with academics. So much is started early and it is naive to think that will change. How to balance that, I think, is where we need to keep our focus. Kindergarten children across many nations have reading and writing instructions as part of their curriculum. Math is a focus beyond working with manipulatives. Cookie cutter projects still decorate classroom walls. And the same holds true for some preschools. We’ve become a nation of sooner is better and more is better.
And the pragmatic me says..certain areas of the curriculum are here to stay. We teach emergent literacy and beyond, we teach math with manipulatives and paper and pencil. We incorporate STEM We are more aware of children’s “emotions” in learning and look at SEL and it’s impact. In our world with the children we teach (whoever they are, wherever they are and whatever grade they’re in), we bring to the table what we know works best for them. We balance and temper what we’d like to root out, with what gives meaning to the age and stage of each student. So, as much as I would like to have the “ideal world” for them, it’s not possible nor realistic. But I’ll be darned if I don’t push for it when and where I can.
My fervent wish is that more educators use their voice to support what has value and meaning to their students and their teaching. I would love to hear your “voice” on this topic.
Stay safe, stay healthy and keep that teaching joy in the forefront.