Yesterday, in various parts of the country, many children went back to school.
Don't even get me started on school in August (I've posted about this before).
Last week, I ran across an August 2009 Boston Globe article entitled Pressure-cooker kindergarten. Initially I thought the article had been written contemporaneously, but it appears the nuttiness has been going on for some time now.
The gist of the article is that teachers and educators are horrified at what kindergarten has become, and feel powerless to stop it. The anecdotal evidence will make your blood turn cold. According to a veteran teacher of 38 years, a barely five-year-old in her kindergarten class was deemed "not proficient" in language skills because she did not know her ABC's. This creative soul had taught the class a song that she had made up on her own, but because of new requirements, the teacher was forced to send home a letter to the child's parents stating that their student was not proficient (in language skills). The educator deemed this activity, "...destructive, even abusive" and eventually retired in disgust. Look, if you don't know the right ABC song, we're going to have to get you some help.
For other teachers that have quit in disgust, read the brilliant 1991 open regsignation of New York Teacher of the Year, John Taylor Gatto, or view the moving video that went viral earlier this year, made by a fed-up Rhode Island school teacher .
In another bit of craziness from the same above referenced boston.com article, a kindergarten teacher bemoans the lack of free play time in his class. In order to motivate his charges to complete their writing assignment, he promises 20-minutes of play time if they comply. The class breaks out in cheers. He states, "I try to mix the fun and the lessons...but we are testing them so much that I barely have time to teach the curriculum. These are 5- and 6-year-olds, and there is so little time for them to be kids.”
Later in the article, a long time principal opines, "I’m not opposed to standards, but the amount of time we spend doing these assessments...it’s really criminal...but I’m not in charge.”
Criminal? Yes, I agree.
"...5-year-olds don’t learn by listening to a rote lesson, their bottoms on their chairs. They learn through experience. They learn through play. Yet there is a growing disconnect between what the research says is best for children -- a classroom free of pressure -- and what’s actually going on in schools."
Pressure-cooker kindergarten, The Boston Globe
And yet there lies such a simple solution to the problem. Let them play.
If you are homeschooling a kindergarten-age child this year, let them play. Hold off on the formal lessons. Does this mean that opportunities for reading, writing, and 'rithmetic won't present themselves naturally? They almost always do. Children are innately curious. They want to learn. It really isn't necessary to force them.
For further reading on the subject of playing to learn and learning to play, see Teach Me to Play and Caution: Childhood Could Be Hazardous To Your Health.
With Nationalized Education (read: Common Core) looming on the horizon, it's a great time to ask, "What on earth is going on in schools?" Remember the creative kindergartner who made up her own song? There will be no time for that nonsense in the New World Order of Learning.
It's extremely important that every American know exactly the same thing at exactly the same time. Or what? What will happen? People might go crazy and start thinking for themselves or burst out into unauthorized song.
Concerned that your young 'un won't be properly socialized if you hold him or her out of school? Take a look at the wildly popular Civilized, Not Socialized.
Are you homeschooling for the first time this year? Are you afraid you'll mess up your kid and he or she won't be able to spell or add at the right time? Be of good cheer. You can't do worse than kindergarten...seriously.