Renee Dinnerstein’s Revolution Grows in Brooklyn

Last September, before school began, I made my way to the Brooklyn Historical Society for the launch of  Renée Dinnerstein’s new book, Choice Time.  At a time of standardized tests for five-year-olds, canned curriculum, didactic instruction, and the Common Core—in a city of deep inequality and segregation—this event was long overdue.

More than 200 teachers poured into the landmark Romanesque Revival building, now a center of urban history, civic dialogue, and community outreach. Many were left standing around the edges of the room, the air tense with expectancy. After a day of setting up their . . . Read full article →

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Paul Tough’s Hard Work of Helping Children Succeed

In the acknowledgments of Helping Children Succeed, Paul Tough’s latest ruminations on same, the best-selling author concedes that he had originally thought of the slim 125-page book as nothing more than an online report.  His literary agent disabused him of that notion, visions of new readers dancing in his head.

Tough’s earlier book, How Children Succeed, a prequel to his latest tome, hit the zeitgeist in 2012, its subtitle “Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character” ever so tantalizing. A contributing writer to the New York Times magazine and This American Life, he set forth . . . Read full article →

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We’re Not in Reggio Emilia Anymore: Kathy and Ro’s Translation Project

Play, the primary engine of human development, is vanishing.  Melvin Konner, an anthropologist and neuroscientist, regards it as the central paradox of evolutionary biology, combining great energy and risk for an activity that seems pointless.

But pointless it’s not. The positive emotions evoked by interactions, physical exercise, and mastery of skills in play spurs us toward novelty and more flexible learning—an exquisite means of developing our brains, social selves, and alleviating stress.

Sadly, recent education policies have squelched what all the smartest mammals do naturally.  Literacy and numeracy, the prime foci of the Common Core, have . . . Read full article →

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What Do Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups? Ask Erika Christakis

Suddenly, everyone’s weighing in on what young children need. From CEOs of tech startups to the titans of philanthropcapitalism, from economists to journalists and political pundits, early development and education have become a free-for-all, the province of those whose expertise lies elsewhere.

Enter, Erika Christakis, author of The Importance of Being Little. First, her credentials. She spent her undergraduate years at Harvard, and went on for advanced degrees at Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, and Lesley University’s Graduate School of Education.   Long affiliated with Yale, she has taught preschoolers along with college courses on child development and . . . Read full article →

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