|A crop of veneered boxes, ready for next step.|
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 or to use basic connecting words and prepositions. They can’t make a conceptual analogy between, say, the veins on a leaf and the veins in their own hands.My readers will likely know that schooling in America is steeped in artificiality and our children are drowning in it. From the same article:
A major evaluation of Tennessee’s publicly funded preschool system, published in September, found that although children who had attended preschool initially exhibited more “school readiness” skills when they entered kindergarten than did their non-preschool-attending peers, by the time they were in first grade their attitudes toward school were deteriorating. And by second grade they performed worse on tests measuring literacy, language, and math skills. The researchers told New York magazine that overreliance on direct instruction and repetitive, poorly structured pedagogy were likely culprits; children who’d been subjected to the same insipid tasks year after year after year were understandably losing their enthusiasm for learning. That’s right. The same educational policies that are pushing academic goals down to ever earlier levels seem to be contributing to—while at the same time obscuring—the fact that young children are gaining fewer skills, not more.How do children gain skills? By doing real things, not the "same insipid tasks year after year!" But insipid tasks is what schools are known for. If Kindergarten which once relied upon play to ready the child for life, is now the new first grade, and preschool is to ready children for a Kindergarten that no longer resembles what it once was, when will children be readied for life?
Yesterday in my woodshop, I cut keyed miter slots in the corners of boxes and installed contrasting keys to strengthen and decorate the mitered joints. Today if it was not Christmas day, I would be in the shop sanding the sides flush and smooth and cutting the lids from the bodies of the boxes so that hinges could be installed.
Do people not know that creativity begins at the earliest days of childhood and that it can be drowned in school? My thanks to Mario for forwarding the article. It truly amazes me that educational policy makers would be as ignorant as they are. But the reasons are clear. The further you get from the hands, and hands on, the further you traipse from reality.
Make, fix, create, and encourage others to change the system so that others can learn likewise.