What A Day for a Daydream: Defending Childhood

“Kindergarten is the new first grade” has been our sad mantra for a while now, the outgrowth of education policy that has steadily encroached upon some of the most cherished precincts of childhood. In this climate, “Play has become a four-letter word,” the opening salvo of A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool, a volume by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Laura Berk, and Dorothy Singer. All of whom have amassed a mountain of evidence that young children need unstructured time for play, under “the gentle guidance of adults,” the better to enhance their learning and readiness for formal schooling.

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The High Cost of Stress for the Poor and the Powerless

Income inequality and stress are trending this week. “President Says Income Gap is Fraying U.S. Social Fabric” was the headline from Galesburg, Illinois. Declaring the economy stronger than four years ago, Obama, apparently, has been getting an earful from the citizenry, many of whom are seeing relief, but remain anxious about their future. Meanwhile, science writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff held forth on health disparities in “Status and Stress,” a piece with the chilling subhead: “The poor and powerless are at greater risk of early death.”

And who are among the growing number of the poor and . . . Read full article →

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Professionalism is Just a Seven-Letter Word

The task of improving American education has long been on the to-do list of historians, sociologists, policy pundits, lawmakers, corporate executives, philanthropists, educators, and parents. That crew includes David Tyack and Larry Cuban, whose 1997 book, Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public Education Reform, offers up some “psychological distance on issues obscured by the passions of the present.” Here’s their take on early care and education:

Generation after generation of Americans have discovered that working mothers need help in caring for their children, but they have tended to make patchwork day-care arrangements, assuming that the problem of minding the . . . Read full article →

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#Rally4Babies: Moving into 21st-Century Advocacy

I was really cranky last week when I wrote “Early Learning: Made in the U.S.A.,” a report on the virtual Rally4Babies. I pronounced ECE’s Google + Hangout “short on inspiration,” and complained that it was just another round of preaching to the chorus. I kvetched about battle fatigue, and America’s age-old ambivalence about intervention in the sacred realm of the family. I said that the rally was no Arab Spring.

I felt a pang of guilt when I read Matthew Melmed’s upbeat blog post, urging us all to “RALLY ON—in capital letters, no less—in the . . . Read full article →

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