Enough Already with the Word Gap, Says Amy Rothschild

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I’ve been worried about the “word gap.” The 30-million vocabulary “deficit” discovered in low-income children by psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley in 1995. I’m concerned about the hidden curriculum.

“Deficit’ is the operative term. In an article published in the Teachers College Record a few years ago, researchers Sylvia Martinez and John Rury take us on a tour of the terms “culturally deprived” and “disadvantaged,” from 1960 through 1985, noting how they engendered controversy as frustration with educational change grew. They report on a group of sociologists at the University of Chicago, who convened a meeting to . . . Read full article →

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Jamila Carter Weighs in on No-Excuses Discipline

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Strict discipline, leavened with love and support, has long had its proponents among parents and the teaching corps of color. In an ethnographic study, published in the journal of Urban Education a decade ago, Dr. Franita Ware mourned the loss of this historical model, profiling two practitioners of “warm- demander” pedagogy, rooted in an ethic of caring and responsiveness.

But the “tough-minded, no-nonsense, structured and disciplined classroom environment” that Ware described has gone terribly awry, sparking a movement of “no-excuses” discipline in underserved urban school districts that has imposed strict control, demeaned parents, and silenced children’s . . . Read full article →

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Emily Kaplan’s Musings on the Luxury of Lingering in Childhood

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A battle rages across the land. How on earth do we bridge those cavernous achievement gaps? The ghosts of No Child Left Behind hover. George W. Bush’s attempt to banish the “soft bigotry of low expectations” has morphed into a “no excuses” reform movement that ignores early childhood’s robust evidence base, consigning children to joyless hamster wheels and school creeds. Recess is disappearing.

Emily Kaplan, an elementary school teacher in Boston, has taken note. She’s bravely left the “Silent Area,” where giggling and critical thinking are prohibited. Here are her musings, originally published at . . . Read full article →

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Susan DuFresne: Humanity Stripped from a Whole-Child System

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Last summer, I reviewed Learning Together, a book that links Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism with the vision of the Framers’ vision for American democracy. Here’s the thesis:

By developing habits of mind and heart that enable children to construct knowledge through meaningful relationships, [social constructivist early childhood education programs] help to..realize the Framers’ vision of a regime that depends for its survival on the capacity of individuals to advance and disseminate knowledge through their association…and build skills such as inter-subjectivity, cognitive integration, attachment, executive function, self-regulation, discipline, synthesis, creativity, respect, and ethics.

Susan . . . Read full article →

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