Published by Lori Pickert on November 20, 2008 at 05:54 PM

The Respected Educator who looked at our classroom teeming with three- to five-years-olds on fire with enthusiasm for learning and said, “Not this way.”

The teachers who visited our school and stood in the center of a classroom filled with children working, talking, building, reading, playing, and said, “This won’t work.”

The visitor who shook her head over a group of children actively engaging in reading, writing, constructing, play-acting, negotiating, communicating about space and said, “This topic is too complex for preschool children.”

How often do we throw away what works just because it doesn’t fit with our narrow prejudices about the way things are supposed to be?


Comment by allie on November 20, 2008 at 06:21 PM

I think people can be so afraid of change and adaptation. We are not teaching children to be students, we are helping students to become members of an ever changing world community. And while there is no one way to do that, one way not to do that is to teach down and deter them from their interests.

Comment by Sarah (poopsywoo) on November 20, 2008 at 07:18 PM

I read your linked post. So, um, you live in Illinois? Wherebouts.....?

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 20, 2008 at 08:36 PM

allie, agreed. it is curious to me -- really curious -- as to how adults can look at kids who are really, really interested in something and still find a way to say “it doesn’t count”. it doesn’t count because they’re not learning it the way i thought they would learn it, it doesn’t count because my professors told me it should look a a different way, it doesn’t count because i didn’t think kids could do this, it doesn’t count because i didn’t think that (video games, graphic novels, monster play, etc.) had anything to do with real learning.

sarah, east-central. ;^)

Comment by Theresa on November 21, 2008 at 04:02 AM

I think some of it has to do with our own school experiences. If it doesn't look familiar, then it can't be learning, because that's not how we did it back in the day, etc. It is hard to get past our own indoctrination. I even find myself doubting what we do here sometimes, even though I know in my heart it is good.

Comment by Ali on November 21, 2008 at 09:20 AM

And why can't we ever trust children? Even the child-centred learning that I've come across doesn't really trust children to know what is best for them. We've tried to trust our children from birth, we let them sleep with us, we feed on demand, we listen when they ask for cuddles or books because they know what they need. And the same goes for their education now (although my daughter is only 2.5 she's homeschooled with her friend who is 3.5) - we listen to what they are interested in and find ways to expand that and give them more opportunities to engage with it. Since reading The Hundred Languages (I'm still only half way through) I've started writing down what they say and this has really given me a deeper understanding of what they are about. I think we should all stop telling them what they should be doing and start listening to what they are doing!

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 21, 2008 at 02:48 PM

theresa, yes -- “i’ve always known learning to look like *this* or be like *this*, so .. can this be learning?” i was just talking with a friend who observed that to many people, if it’s too enjoyable, then it can’t be real learning -- children are supposed to work! as though all work is drudgery.

ali, i love that you are documenting what your daughter and her friend are saying. i would love to see your notes. :^)

really, the focus of early childhood education isn’t what makes children happiest or what helps them achieve what they want to do (because there is the suspicious feeling that what they want to do is be silly and destructive all day long) .. it’s about what we think is good for them. the idea of rowing the boat *with* the tide .. well, to many that just seems wrong .. teaching is something we do *to* children, not *with* children.

your listening to what they are doing will allow you to *help them do what they want to do*. that doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of what you think is important for them to know .. but you can work together! i truly believe most educators don’t think that’s possible. which is very sad.

Comment by victoria on November 23, 2008 at 10:30 PM

Ha! If they really looked at the complexities kids can handle when learning they would have to work at lot harder on developing the existing mainstream edcation systems.
On a lighter note - I love that owl drawing!

Comment by Lori Pickert on November 23, 2008 at 10:56 PM

very true. maybe the program is dumbed down to make things easier for the adults rather than the children. ;^)

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