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Crushing Kids?
November 1, 2018
Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.
-Margaret Mead
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“Kindergarten is indeed the new first grade,” declares Erika Christakis in an Atlantic Monthly article, “The New Preschool is Crushing Kids.” She explains that “children who would once have used the kindergarten year as a gentle transition into school are in some cases being held back before they’ve had a chance to start…

Now that kindergarten serves as a gatekeeper, not a welcome mat, to elementary school, concerns about school preparedness kick in earlier and earlier. A child who’s supposed to read by the end of kindergarten had better be getting ready in preschool...

Preschool classrooms have become increasingly fraught spaces, with teachers cajoling their charges to finish their ‘work’ before they can go play. And yet, even as preschoolers are learning more pre-academic skills at earlier ages, I’ve heard many teachers say that they seem somehow—is it possible?—less inquisitive and less engaged than the kids of earlier generations. More children today seem to lack the language skills needed to retell a simple story…

The shift from an active and exploratory early-childhood pedagogy to a more scripted and instruction-based model does not involve a simple trade-off between play and work, or between joy and achievement. On the contrary, the preoccupation with accountability has led to a set of measures that favor shallow mimicry and recall behaviors, such as learning vocabulary lists and recognizing shapes and colors (something that a dog can do, by the way, but that is in fact an extraordinarily low bar for most curious 4-year-olds), while devaluing complex, integrative…learning.”

Source: “The New Preschool is Crushing Kids,” by Erika Christakis, Atlantic Monthly, January/February, 2016





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