Young children are in a precarious position. They don’t know that they don’t know and so are in no position to do anything about it. Yet, they are judged as if they can perform as requested.
There is no research evidence that an early access to formal learning serves the needs of children and a lot of evidence that it can actually do harm. Young children should be given sufficient time, in a developmentally appropriate way, to be ready for academic tasks.
When we create the possibility or reality of failure in the mind of a young child, we introduce illness. Later, we prescribe medicine and treatment without recognizing that the structure of education has often been at the root of the problem. Schools, by their very nature, build in failure. Fear of failure feeds self-talk and is at the heart of reading and learning problems.
You have to keep them in the game. It’s the same as being successful in sports. You can push as much as you like but if they don’t push themselves, it’s a lost cause. High school drop-out rates cost social assistance and criminal justice programs $1.3 billion per year. In 2001 there were 2,944,235 high school drop-outs in Canada. Schools often blame parents. But it’s hard for some parents when schools turn their children into failures so quickly. Struggles over homework and grades also fractures relationships between parents and their children.
Good teaching is open and honest. It engenders excitement and a love of learning. Students respond to beauty and pattern and are naturally curious. Just talk to them! And, more importantly, listen to them! They all have visions of possibilities. Unfortunately, schools often make it impossible to realize these dreams when they don’t meet with curriculum demands.
Human beings have a capacity for art, music and drama. It is through these experiences that students will reach the highest level of mental functioning possible. We must throw away the existing notion of the arts as frivolous and respect their value and importance. Let’s inject a bit of “lovely madness” into our classrooms.
Life is a complex dance. Everyone must constantly adapt to others and to circumstances. How is it possible to give a single, fixed number for what someone knows as we attempt to do on report cards? Labels are cemented in report cards. Parents fail to lobby for change because they have been conditioned and brainwashed by the rituals of schooling they themselves experienced.
Who makes the momentous decisions of what to teach and how? How important is what is left out? Students, who are unable to ‘dance’ with schooling as it is currently structured, are seen as having the problem. Is it possible that it is the school that is out of step? This is the predicament of the student.
Let’s get in step with the realities of the 21st Century.