What Do Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups? Ask Erika Christakis

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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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Harriet Cuffaro's Building Blocks of Educational Equity

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I recently learned that Harriet Cuffaro had left us. Suddenly, I was back on the classroom floor at Bank Street College of Education, where she taught for three decades. Well past childhood, we were deep into block building, one of the most rigorous assignments I encountered in graduate school.

Cuffaro, a renowned progressive educator in the mode of John Dewey, championed open-ended play and experiential learning. In the introduction to Bank Street’s Occasional Paper Series No. 32, or “Festschrift—a volume reflecting the values, theories, and passions of a senior scholar in a field”—Miriam Raider-Roth, a former . . . Read full article →

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Teaching Kindergarten in A New Age of Anxiety

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These are dark times for the children in the garden. They have lost their place at the center of education. The shepherds of early development are struggling to move them in from the periphery. But the task is daunting, efforts thwarted in the age of standards-based accountability.

Teaching Kindergarten: Learner Centered Classrooms for the 21st Century breaks the silence—not a moment too soon. As editors Julie Diamond, Betsy Grob, and Fretta Reitzes note in the introduction, teachers determine what happens in a classroom, their voices critical for translating best practice to the uninitiated. Yet they’re experts . . . Read full article →

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The Incredible Ridiculousness of Readiness

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The subject line was irresistible: “Early Childhood Pushes Up.” The Teachers College Record, a hotbed of radical critique, had delivered another gem to my inbox. Here was a scathing commentary on Obama’s “Cradle-to-Career” education policy.

“Wish you hadn’t moved to Australia,” I emailed Jeanne Marie Iorio, a senior lecturer at Victoria University, in Melbourne. She’s co-author of the aforementioned work, with Clifton Tanabe, who hasn’t left the United States, but offers perspective from the periphery, at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Their thesis is sound: School readiness, a state we so avidly seek, has created a chain . . . Read full article →

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