Virtual Kindergarten? There Goes the Neighborhood

The headline for yesterday’s post at “Rules for Engagement,” Ross Brenneman’s blog at Education Week, was riveting. “How to be Social: Early-Childhood Edition,” it proclaimed. “Children…learn from each other,” Brenneman wrote. “They imitate one another’s actions, language, and appearances. And it begins early.” So far, so good.

But the plot quickly thickened, as a link drew me to the latest issue of Digital Directions, and a feature story (nice and short, for our rapidly shrinking attention spans), by Robin Flanigan, on the pros and cons of online kindergarten. Yes, you heard me. After I got . . . Read full article →

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Early Ed's Patchwork Quilt Uncovered

It’s exhilarating, if exhausting, up here in the higher precincts of the federal policy agenda. As Obama and Duncan continue their preschool marketing marathon, all of ECE’s wrinkled, dirty laundry is hanging out to dry.

Motoko Rich reports from the Windy City that fellow political marathoner Rahm Emanuel plans to double the number of Catholic schools in the city eligible for “taxpayer money” for preschool. This phenomenon, of course, is nothing new—public and private have long mixed, via charters, in the K-12 system—but I was tickled, and horrified, by the following observation:

At a time when more . . . Read full article →

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An Rx for our Ailing Human Ecosystem

There once was a child psychologist named Urie Bonfenbrenner, who toiled at Cornell, in Ithaca, New York. From his formidable brain emerged a bio-ecological theory of human development. Children, he said, don’t develop in isolation, but rather in relation to the institutions in which they’re “nested”: home, school, community, workplace, and the larger society. In a human ecosystem, we’re all connected by a complex constellation of relationships. As Bronfenbrenner wrote in his seminal work, The Ecology of Human Development:

Whether parents can perform effectively in their child-rearing roles within the family depends on… demands, stresses, and supports emanating from other . . . Read full article →

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Raising Baby

Just a while ago, a video arrived, featuring our family’s newest member. Scarcely ten weeks in residence, my grandson was giving a morning lecture, infant-style. We do a lot of talking in the field about babies without voice, a metaphor for their powerlessness and vulnerability. We also do a lot of hand-wringing, and tons of advocacy, in the face of a policy vacuum that has captured the attention of no less a body than Human Rights Watch.

Lately, though, the grownup “ventriloquists” have been ramping up their act and taking it on the road. Including West Ed’s . . . Read full article →

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