Saturday, October 3, 2015

Are We Really Learning What We Need To Know In Kindergarten?

I don't remember much about being five or being in Kindergarten. I think that might be okay because, more than likely, it was a positive experience. What do you remember about Kindergarten?

What I do remember about teaching Kindergarten is that I was often sad and frustrated with learning objectives that were inappropriate for my students developmental window. That arbitrary standards were created, seemingly without understanding of how children grow and learn at early ages.

Now I work with sixth graders and some teachers and parents get frustrated because they are unorganized or lack focus or seem to be walking in a daze.
Of course they are.
Especially the boys.
They are adolescent, hormonal hurricanes swirling through a sea of social anxieties and pressures.

You will have to excuse them if adding fractions is low on their priority list today because (insert cute boy or girl here) may have looked at them in the hallway and it was just after PE and they are not sure, but their shirt might be on inside out and backwards because the coach rushed them out of the locker room.

 The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland

The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland

What I think is being lost in the grand scheme of the education debates over standards and Common Core is the basic development of a human being. Somewhere along the lines education became more important than learning. Curriculum became more important than exploration. A number became more important than development.

I am not going to hyperbolize the amazing educational events happening in other countries (I don't see Finland and Japan threatening to build walls to keep out immigrants). There are examples from Finland and Japan and even in some schools in the United States that believe helping students learn is more important than educating them.

I hope this is where our collective pedagogy returns. It's not about the curriculum or the standards or the test, it's about the students sitting in front of us and helping them develop their passion and excitement for this incredible magical miracle we call living.