Thursday, January 28, 2010

Too early; too soon.

I have a problem with the way young kids are forced to 'understand' the world through numbers and letters at the expense of interpreting the world through free play. That is, they are told to leave what they are doing, whether it's playing with a piece of wrapping paper as my two year old niece was doing and using her vast imagination to transform that piece of paper first into a skirt, then a "lady's hat,"then asking her grandmother to pull her along because she's in a "little boat"- leave this creative, imaginative process and settle down to 'learn' your letters and what 2 and 2 equal. This misguided way of thinking implies that creative play is not learning but a frivolous waste of time.

Frustratingly, unexamined, unquestioned 'thinking' of this kind continues to prevail. We hang on to a method of 'education' that evolved in the industrial revolution era and served that age's goals to create "better workers" but is no longer relevant to today's world.

Essentially, what is conveyed to the child is that what she is doing is unimportant, not serious.

But playing is dead serious, especially for young children. In fact it is far more serious than learning A B Cs which comes easily and naturally when the child is interested and ready.

'Switching' young children's mindset from a play-centered mode of interpreting the world around them, (an essential stage of their development) to a premature academic focus is interfering with the natural flow of things.

It harms creativity, spontaneity and confidence. A life long habit of dependency on others is created.

Now Ontario is spending 1.5 billion dollars for young children, 4 year olds to go to school full time.

According to our Premier, quoted in Mclean's Magazine

The optional full-day program will better prepare kids for Grade 1 and beyond, which will help them land good jobs when they finish school. .

The idea that the earlier they start their 'education' (read factory style, 'one size fits all' compulsory schooling) the more likely they will run into 'success' in life would be laughable if it weren't such a dangerous lie.


Anonymous said...

the money wasted on trying to fix a broken system...oy!

Anonymous said...

Starting earlier academically doesn't mean you will be more educated. In fact,for many (especially the disadvantaged) this is the best way to ensure any inkling for love of learning be snuffed out for ever more.

Lucy said...

This attitude spills over into the "unimportance" of the arts for adults and kids. Creating is playing. Enjoying life and your surroundings has to have beneficial effects.

rfs said...

That's right. And yet, when we want to present ourselves as 'cultured' and 'educated' what do we turn to to prove it? The arts of course.

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