Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Nancy Carlsson-Paige: Our misguided effort to close the achievement gap is creating a new inequality: the ‘play’ gap - The Washington Post

Our misguided effort to close the achievement gap is creating a new inequality: the ‘play’ gap - The Washington Post:

Our misguided effort to close the achievement gap is creating a new inequality: the ‘play’ gap




“Play is the primary engine of human growth. It’s universal — as much as walking and talking.” That’s what Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood development expert, wrote in this postabout just how “twisted” early childhood education that ignores the value of play has become. Classes for young children that concentrate on academics and force kids to sit in chairs and do worksheets for hours on end are harmful — and now, there is a risk that a new “play disparity” between kids from poor and better-to-do families is widening and could be exacerbated by a push for universal pre-kindergarten.
Here’s a new post on this issue by Carlsson-Paige, who for decades has been at the forefront of the debate on how best to educate — and not educate — the youngest students. She is a professor emerita of education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Ma., where she taught teachers for more than 30 years and was a founder of the university’s Center for Peaceable Schools. She is also a founding member and senior advisor of a nonprofit called Defending the Early Years, which commissions research about early childhood education and advocates for sane policies for young children.
Carlsson-Paige is author of “Taking Back Childhood.” The mother of two artist sons, Matt and Kyle Damon, she is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Legacy Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps for work over several decades on behalf of children and families, as well as the Deborah Meier award given by the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing.
By Nancy Carlsson-Paige
Soon many of our nation’s young children will be starting school for the first time. What they will likely find is something dramatically different from what their parents experienced at their age. Kindergartens and pre-K classrooms have changed.  There is less play, less art and music, less child choice, more teacher-led instruction, worksheets, and testing than a generation ago. Studies tell us that these changes, although pervasive, are most evident in schools serving high percentages of low-income children of color.
The pressure to teach academic skills in pre-k and kindergarten has been increasing since the passage of the No Child Left Behind act 15 years ago.  Today, many young children are required to sit in chairs, sometimes for long periods of time, as a teacher instructs them.  This goes against their natural impulse to learn actively through play where they are fully engaged–body, mind, and spirit.
Play is an engine driving children to build ideas, learn skills, and develop capacities they need in life. Kids all over the world play and no one has to teach them how. In play children develop problem solving skills, social and emotional awareness, self-regulation, imagination, and inner Our misguided effort to close the achievement gap is creating a new inequality: the ‘play’ gap - The Washington Post:

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