Nancy E. Bailey: Pre-School Rigor Is Child Abuse

Well, she didn’t exactly use that term, but I did.

Bailey reviews a study that calls for more “rigor” in preschool and the New York Times’ shameless endorsent of this finding. What if someone did a study and concluded that leeches are the best curative and every hospital should order a supply? Just because someone does a “study” doesn’t mean that it is just or reasonable. Suppose a study found that students get higher test scores if they are threatened with a beating? That might work if you think higher scores are the goal of education and nothing else matters.

She writes:

Prerequisite to Kindergarten: Instead of demanding four-year-olds talk of geometric “attributes,” how about getting them to show up the first day of kindergarten with great big smiles on their faces?

The New York Times is praising a new study in a report titled “Free Play or Flashcards? New Study Nods to More Rigorous Preschools.” The study itself is titled “Do academic preschools yield stronger benefits? Cognitive emphasis, dosage, and early learning?” The authors are researchers from the Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley and the Food and Drug Administration. But I am not going to spend much time reading this study.

The first mistake these researchers make, is that many Americans want to see the word “rigor” buried. It’s mean-spirited, and we recognize that people who use rigor and preschool, in the same breath, know little about children, or, worse, they don’t like them. So “rigorous” in the title, especially when it is getting a nod, is troubling.

It’s a study done on low and middle class children. I think many are also tired of pushing this group of children to learn. We understand that poor and middle class students do well with all the stuff wealthy students have in school. Why didn’t this study include a private school like Sidwell? At least then, if children grow up mal-adapted due to rigor, their parents will be able to afford therapy…

“Why go through the trouble of having a child, if they are made to become an adult before their time? Why do these researchers care so much about who “outperforms” who? Most of us don’t want preschool teenagers. That period comes soon enough! We’re sick of hearing young children can and should work above and beyond their age and development!…

“We don’t want child oddities, children forced to know facts and figures, and pushed to read before they’re ready. Little children don’t need to be browbeaten to learn. It could backfire. They could easily learn to hate learning.

“Preschools should be about love. They should encourage children to enjoy learning about other preschoolers who are different, but fun and interesting. And play is sacred. Dressing up and playing make believe, and building a Lego structure are critical. Play is where children really learn. And good teachers help make this happen through good guidance.

“A preschooler should never be hungry or have a toothache. They should have lovely books to read and be read to often. Dancing, art, and joyful music should be a daily affair.

“So I’m not interested in this study. I’m just not.”

from novemoore


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