Ignoring research, best practice and play is not to be taken lightly, the stakes are too real. They are your children. My children.
I am shocked at how many stakeholders either don't know or dismiss the foundations of learning that have been proven by research countless times in a myriad of ways. How have we so quickly walked away from a methodology that has been proven to be successful? Does the concept of play seem too simplistic? Have they forgotten their audience is children?
"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."
This quote hit home for me, particularly in our wonderful small town. Our schools are filled with awesome teachers that certainly must struggle with the disparage between how they were trained to teach to what they are now being trained and required to disseminate. What choice do they have? Do they feel like me? Grin and bare it? Be quiet or move on? Perhaps though, many voices may halt the momentum that feels like an ongoing tsunami. It was Benjamin Franklin who said, "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." Have we forgotten from whence we came?
"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".
To whom play could best serve the best results, it is little more than a pipe dream and I have witnessed the devastation personally. I have been left many mornings and evenings with weeping sons, only eight and ten years old now. My eight year old just last night said, "I'm not good enough." My beautiful boy is far better than that, than any test, yet he feels the pressure and the impending doom and it is not from me or his lovely teacher.
When bright inquisitive children ignore repeated parental admonishments about why tests don't really matter, one should question to whose voice they are listening and believing. My parenting is not to blame for this chipping away at self-confidence, though my silence as a spectator leaves me as a contributing guilty party. And so, I shall come forward.
Are schools creating nightmarish experiences in the name of education and a race for higher scores? Are legislators demanding performance that goes against everything that is lovely about how young children learn?
My answer is yes. My question is what now?