Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hyper-Schooling is Robbing Our Kids of a Carefree Childhood

Alison Gopnik's article at hits at the heart of why American schooling is failing our kids. Not only does it address the detrimental effects of excessive "schooling", but it makes it clear that standardized testing is hardly an effective gauge of intelligence. When you take these studies combined with other warnings, like the one released by the American Academy of Pediatrics, you start to get a more complete picture of what really ails our kids.

In the article, "Why Preschool Shouldn't Be Like School", new research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, may backfire. The article focuses on how "direct instruction" may be effective at teaching skills and facts but is inadequate for fostering curiosity and creativity that are more important in the long run. This is just one more study that shows that "education experts" are out of step with what is best for kids.

In the American Academy of Pediatric report, a compilation of studies, warn parents of the relationship between increased depression and anxiety in children and the lack of the simple childhood pleasure of play. The report states that "the national trend, to focus on the academic fundamentals of reading and arithmetic, spearheaded by No Child Left Behind, has decreased time left during the school day for recess, creative arts, and physical education" which has further diminished the child-driven play that is essential to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Compound that with extended hours in after-school programs that emphasize academics, the hours of unsupervised video gaming and constant T.V. and you have a recipe for a nation that cannot create, work, or think.

Reliance on the judgement of government central planners and the "expert" opinions of educators has led the Federal Department of Education to drown our kids in "testing". It has become an "established fact" by these same experts that our kids need more "instructional time", they need to be "schooled" at ever younger ages, they need to be in school longer each day and throughout the year, and they shouldn't miss more than a few days of school lest they "fall behind"!

A startling example of how hyper-schooling is robbing kids of the essential care they need is evident in the story of a kindergartner who was diagnosed with leukemia. On the day she got home from her first round of chemo the teacher from her school had already been to her home to set up her "schooling" plans. The five year old child would be expected to Skype into class as often as possible and the teacher would bring her a packet of homework every couple of days.

We are told by education "experts" that our kids need this hyper-schooling or they will be unable to "compete" in the "global market place". Funding for birth to the grave "schooling" is ever increasing with the promise of preserving America's economic dominance. Whether reluctantly or passively, believing that American kids are falling behind the rest of the world, the majority of parents have gone along with the trend pushed by these "expert" opinions. Very seldom do these "expert" divulge the fact that the school district that consistently scores first internationally doesn't even start the "formal" education of their children until they are seven, and that in many of the top performing school systems young children not only start school later then American children, but are school less over time.

The result has been parents who think that a detailed "schooling" plan for a five year old with leukemia is a compassionate service performed for their child by a dedicated teacher, rather than a flop-sided priority in which the emotional and physical welfare of a very young child is second to their mastering the kindergarten curriculum.

Why are we so quick as parents to take what the "experts" say as rock solid fact when it goes against our own common sense? I've had numerous conversations where the consensus among parents was that our kids don't have the carefree childhoods that we had. Who’s to blame for that? Ultimately we are! We are the parents and like our parents before us, we have to do what is best for our kids no matter what "everybody else is doing."

Take it from a real "expert", my mom, who said, "If they decide to jump off a cliff it doesn't mean you should" I'm not jumping off this cliff and I'm hoping I can convince others to put their feet on solid ground and start listening to their inner "expert" and trust their own common sense. Never mind the implied judgments that you're neglecting your child's "education". You're protecting their intelligence!

These articles should make us all STOP, and take a more critical look at the government agendas and cultural trends that push this hyper-schooling onto our kids. This trend has negative implications for the social and emotional development of children and adolescents. What our kids need most is good quality time with their parents, plenty of good old-fashioned free time, and a lot less pressure to take on the full time job of "schooling" at five years old!

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly why I am keeping my kids home from school. I refuse to let so-called "experts" dictate to me my family's schedule, allowed activities, and set process of learning. It makes me cringe to see other people posting on their Facebook about what the school is dictating to them or discussing the school's new "policies" at an informal meeting of parents. How can people let the schools take away their rights to a real life like that?