A Very Scary Post About Kindergarten - Washington Post

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by teacherman1, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Feb 9, 2014

    A Very Scary Headline About Kindergarteners - Washington Post

    From the article:

    "For some kids, learning to read in kindergarten is just fine. For many others, it isn’t. They just aren’t ready. In years gone by, kids were given time to develop and learn to read in the early grades without being seen as failures. Even kids who took time learning how to read were able to excel.
    Today kids aren’t given time and space to learn at their own speed.
    Writer Alfie Kohn wrote in this post about concerns he has about the new calls for universal early childhood education. Why? Because when people talk about “high-quality programs,” they often mean academic programs, meaning the academic focus is being pushed down to younger and younger kids.

    Very few people are talking about the kind of education that would be offered — other than declaring it should be “high quality.” And that phrase is often interpreted to mean “high intensity”: an accelerated version of skills-based teaching that most early-childhood experts regard as terrible. Poor children, as usual, tend to get the worst of this….

    … The top-down, test-driven regimen of Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” and Obama’s “Race to the Top” initiatives in K-12 education is now in the process of being nationalized with those Common Core standards championed by the Times — an enterprise largely funded, and relentlessly promoted, by corporate groups. That same version of school reform, driven by an emphasis on global competitiveness and a determination to teach future workers as much as possible as soon as possible, would now be expanded to children who are barely out of diapers.

    That doesn’t leave much time for play. But even to the extent we want to promote meaningful learning in young children, the methods are likely to be counterproductive, featuring an emphasis on the direct instruction of skills and rote rehearsal of facts. This is the legacy of behaviorism: Children are treated as passive receptacles of knowledge, with few opportunities to investigate topics and pose questions that they find intriguing. In place of discovery and exploration, tots are trained to sit still and listen, to memorize lists of letters, numbers, and colors. Their success or failure is relentlessly monitored and quantified, and they’re “reinforced” with stickers or praise for producing right answers and being compliant.

    This dreary version of early-childhood education isn’t just disrespectful of children; decades of research show it simply doesn’t work well — and may even be damaging."

    To see entire article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...-really-scary-headline-about-kindergarteners/
     
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  3. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    *blinks* Wait, nothing about reading upside down in this post? Is this a typo?
     
  4. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    :lol:

    Actually, this was the main reason I resigned from teaching in the public schools - the systematic robbery of our kid's childhoods.

    K is the new 1st grade so does that make Pre-K the new K?
     
  5. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I agree that we push children into performing before they are developmentally ready. I have seen too much of that since standardized testing became the norm. My gifted son did not learn to read until 2nd grade and his school career was not adversely affected.

    I find the fact that we have turned our children, our teachers, and our schools into number factories morally repugnant and I can't be a part of the system anymore.
     
  6. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    It is also a reason why many choose to homeschool.
     
  7. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    At first it surprised me that they look at Kindergarten Readiness as real data-I mean it's usually just a screening to see how to place students in different classes. But then I remembered that it's data.

    Luckily a few of us still sneak in things like play and art. ;) We are told straight out to teach to the test. Now even the K teachers' evaluations here are based 50% on student assessment, so I do see teachers doing that. We have a high frequency word test the kids must pass in 1st grade to meet promotion standards-the Pre-K teams were told to start working on those words. Because of course, the earlier you introduce something the faster kids get it. :rolleyes: Keeping everything academically based is also hard on keeping the kids engaged. They need to move around and do hands-on activities.
     
  8. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Did I misunderstand this? Are you saying that hands on activities cannot be academically based?
     
  9. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I've already decided that I'm going to keep my daughter in a daycare-based kindergarten program if she isn't developmentally ready to start reading, and then she can repeat kindergarten in the public school.

    Of course, I've also already decided that she will not be taking our SOL tests, at least as a third grader, so I'm sure my local school district is just going to love me.
     
  10. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I can only see this have a shot at working if Pre-K attendance becomes the rule rather than the exception for kids. It needs to be free and accessible for all.

    There is such a big difference between kindergarteners who went to preschool and those who didn't. It's overwhelming for kids who have never been in a classroom before to have to learn how to follow rules and routines, share, get along with their peers, learn to hold a pencil, etc. and at the same time, learn how to read at an increasingly higher level.
     
  11. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    They of course can be academically based, but do not prepare kids for the multiple choice tests they are going to need to take-therefore in some places they are frowned upon. I saw a class recently where the workstations now included a worksheet at each station-not very engaging. I insert movement activities for them all the time just hoping someone doesn't come in and ask what objective that is working on.

    The other activities I was referring to are things like housekeeping centers, dollhouses, art and dress-up stations that used to be a staple of Kinder classrooms. Kids that age need time to just play and learn how to get along with one another-not necessarily learning reading and math skills at the same time. But unfortunately it doesn't prepare them for future testing so in many places they are no longer allowed.
     
  12. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    This is sad. I am sorry teachers that got promoted to principals didn't know how to teach.

    It is so sad that so many teachers think the only way to prepare students for multiple choice tests is by answering questions with multiple choices.

    I am so glad that I believe in authentic learning, hands on academic activities, open ended questions, writing, reasoning, blah blah blah all will result in better multiple choice testing. All of the best teachers I have had the pleasure of working with have all laughed at the idea of their students doing high level thinking and then struggling on a multiple choice test.
     
  13. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    As others have said it's a numbers game now. The admins have to justify their numbers to their powers-that-be. I've never met a teacher who agreed with those policies, but sometimes you can't buck the system and still be employed. I'm lucky that I'm given some room creatively and I fought to keep the housekeeping furniture. We still do art, but then they write about it, so I can justify the academic side of it.
     
  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    teacherman,

    I agree with you on the type of Kindergarten that is needed. I don't share your doom and gloom thoughts though. The new Common Core curriculum does allow for learning to be done with hands-on activities that are beneficial and enjoyable to students. I see great things coming out of Kindergarten classrooms.

    True, there are the stuffy shirt principals who make testing seem far more important than it is. Yes, there are challenges, but I see many teachers rising to these challenges and finding ways to help these students that they really care about.
     
  15. DrivingPigeon

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    This is one of the main reasons I wanted to leave kindergarten. I hated trying to force kids to read when they weren't ready. I knew that most of them would be ready in a year or two, but if they weren't ready in kindergarten something was wrong with them.
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    If memory serves, KinderCowgirl (and more than one of her colleagues) noted a couple of years ago that her state was requiring that all classroom assessments mimic the state tests quite closely. One also formed the impression that principals who required teaching to the test were doing so because district higher-ups were leaning on them very hard to do so, and that district higher-ups were leaning on the principals because they themselves were being leaned on similarly by the state. In short, as so often happens in times of hysteria, the coprolites were rolling downhill. Not one of the teachers who posted about this state of affairs sounded happy about it, as I recall.

    Yes, these teachers could have resigned on principle to protest the idiocy - but in the desperate budget days of 2008, with throngs of teachers out of work and the ed schools churning out newer and cheaper models, who'd even have noticed?
     
  17. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    RR,
    That's just it. I'm not doom and gloom. I'm hoping that by drawing attention to the crap that's been happening in education we can collectively work to stop it. If we, as teachers, can't stop it, who can??

    Until then, my daughter wants me to home-school her kids.
     
  18. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Could be, but I suspect as Kinder has already said that she could sneak in some authentic learning opportunities that would have INCREASED achievement/preparation on the standardized tests.
     
  19. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I have no opinion on coprolites, probably because I have no idea what they are, but I was wondering about Montessori magnet schools. I wonder how they will be ruined by districts....
     
  20. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I think you will be a marvelous teacher for those children!
     
  21. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    "Very few people are talking about the kind of education that would be offered — other than declaring it should be “high quality.” And that phrase is often interpreted to mean “high intensity”: an accelerated version of skills-based teaching that most early-childhood experts regard as terrible. Poor children, as usual, tend to get the worst of this…"

    This.
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    *meekly* I was trying to be delicate, 'daisy. It's, um, that which flowed downhill in the time of the dinosaurs.
     
  23. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    From the article......

    To me this is no scarier than just about any other educational phrase that has been corrupted and misused in education in the name of improvement for the students.
     
  24. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Everyone should google coprolite. Awesome pictures. ;)
     
  25. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Yes, we need to teach the kids how to bubble answers because both their standardized testing and district benchmarks are all multiple choice. Our school requires our weekly assessments be in this format. We are supposed to do mostly observational/inventory-type assessments-how high they can count, what letters they know. So we end up doing a lot of assessing and therefore, less teaching, less time for play.
     
  26. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    I have a pair of coprolite bookends (sliced in half, quartered - then polished). That way you can see the texture of the sample. Hard to believe they're 60 million years old (give or take a few million)

    My wife and I have taken turns taking them in and freaking out the students (and teachers) in our respective schools.:haha:
     
  27. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    Feb 12, 2014

  28. Preschool0929

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    I definitely feel the push to turn my preschool classroom into more of an academic one. It mostly comes from my P and the Kindergarten teachers. We work on letter recognition and sounds all year, and around 70% of my kids will go to kindergarten knowing both. But, I honestly believe that some of my little ones just aren't ready yet. However, it's those kids that go to K and I hear the K teachers making comments like "john can't even recognize 20 letters. What do they even DO in preschool?"
     
  29. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    One thing that I enjoyed about teaching preschool was that I was pretty much free to do what I wanted with the class. I know some people might think that this is precisely the problem with preschools, but I liked being able to expose kids to literacy and math without them or me feeling the pressure to have to have some concepts down. It made it more possible to meet kids where they were at; some were working on learning basic reading and writing, while others needed information at a lower level.

    I guess what I mean is, it was great to be able to slowly introduce concepts at a pace that worked for each child, rather than knowing that everyone needed to have a concept understood by the end of the week. Every student learns at their own pace. Some are ready to learn to read at a young age; other students arrive at preschool (or kindergarten) never having seen a book before.

    (Also, I don't mean to imply that this is the situation for all preschool classrooms - I know that many follow a more rigid curriculum :) )
     
  30. teacherman1

    teacherman1 Devotee

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    If I had to make a choice on where to put my grand-daughter for preschool, and it was between your classroom and one with a "rigid curriculum" I'd choose yours hands-down.:)
     
  31. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Otterpop, I don't think the problem with freedom in preschool is that some teachers actually do teach the foundation skills needed for academics in a way that is not rigid. I think the problem is SOME preschool teachers don't do what you are explaining but just have wild chaos with no foundation skills and claim that they do. I'm not implying that you claim something you aren't doing, but unfortunately, this does happen and it happens more in programs that don't have a set curriculum than ones that do.

    I often think it is hard for those that do things correctly to understand the backlash because, for you, I expect you could never consider not doing what needs to be done.
     
  32. Miss84

    Miss84 Comrade

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    Yes PreK is the new K, and so on.
    Here in DC, PreK (3's and 4's) is offered to EVERYONE for free.
     
  33. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    NOTHING is free, Miss84.
     
  34. Miss84

    Miss84 Comrade

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    Hmmm ok if you want the politically correct term then no, of course it's not technically free. The taxpayers, of course, are paying for the public education, which in DC, starts at the age of 3. :rolleyes:

    In DC's case, Prek is much more common/expected, which pushes the expectations that are typically found in a K classroom, down to a PreK4 classroom.
     
  35. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I can't say I'm comfortable with the idea of things being pushed down even younger than they already are. In a world where I was dictator, pre-k WOULD be mandated... with an emphasis on building social skills and play. Any academic skills would be secondary and tailored to child readiness.
     
  36. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Social skills clearly have to be put in somewhere. I think it's odd that these things keep getting cut when they've been taught for so long - are these kids supposed to be coming to school just knowing these skills now?
     

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