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Re: instant anxiety for 3, 4, 5-year-olds

On the other hand, Lisa, Brookline has long been full of people who expected
preschool to be the first step enroute to Harvard or MIT.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Lisa Guisbond" <lisa.guisbond@verizon.net>
To: <arn-l@interversity.org>
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2003 9:53 AM
Subject: [arn-l] instant anxiety for 3, 4, 5-year-olds

> Appropos of Susan Stokansky's comments on what we're doing to our
> youngest students/children, I have to share an anecdote from my son's
> first full day of kindergarten here in Brookline, MA, that bastion of
> progressive education and progressive everything else.
> This was day two of kindergarten. Day one had been a half day with only
> half the class, so this was the first time they were in class with all
> their classmates. On entering the room, Gabe asked, "who are all these
> kids?" Rather than begin by gathering all the children together with
> introductions or something, they were expected to sit down at their
> respective tables and complete a series of basic academically oriented
> tasks. Gabe's anxiety level, already high at beginning kindergarten,
> visibly ratcheted up considerably. He announced that he had forgotten
> how to write his name (they were asked to "sign in" at their tables).
> They were then supposed to estimate the number of objects in a jar,
> write down their estimate, practice writing numbers in a little journal,
> then choose a book to look at.
> The boy opposite seemed rather anxious as well. When Gabe asked me to
> help him choose a book and then read it to him, the other little boy
> announced: "The grownup is not supposed to help you. You have to read it
> yourself." Whereupon Gabe looked at me, eyes welling with tears, and
> growled, "I want to go HOME, NOW!"
> When I mentioned to the teacher that the children seemed anxious about
> being confronted with the academic tasks, and described the boy telling
> us that Gabe was supposed to read the book himself, she said, "Oh no,
> they're not expected to read it themselves." I said, "Well, you know
> that, and I know that, but the kids are getting a different message."
> What the hell is going on here? I know Brookline, at least, is full of
> people with deep understanding of developmentally appropriate approaches
> in early education. But everything seems to have forgotten everything
> they know in the face of the rush to introduce academics to these
> anxious little kindergarteners on their first day of school!!!!!
> Lisa Guisbond
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