The Illinois Loop quoting E.D. Hirsch on 'developmentally appropriate', ie, not directly & explicitly teaching children how to hold a pencil correctly and write letters correctly but allowing them to fuddle along year after year in the hope that the children will some how work it out for themselves as they age.
Do you think that Hirsch was recommending that pupils should start being taught to write as soon as they tumble out of the womb, or do you think that maybe he might have thought that there were some developmental issues to be resolved before that sort of teaching became appropriate?
followed it up with:
"Developmentally appropriate. If a teacher uses this term, he or she is suggesting that a child's innocence needs to be preserved by not exposing the student to early hard work. The child will learn when he is "ready".
An interesting generalisation, not borne out by the many teachers I have worked with over the years who DO UNDERSTAND and can distinguish the difference between using the term developmentally appropriate
accurately and not
as an excuse for poor teaching (which happens all time when this distinction is not understood
Based on Yvonne
’s comments I would avoid bothering to read Hirsch’s work, except that I suspect his thinking may not be accurately represented here.
The learning processes involved in the unnatural skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic are inherently slow at first, then speed up cumulatively and exponentially. Because of the cumulative character of school learning, educationally delayed children rarely catch up.
I suspect that Yvonne
has missed the recent neurological research about babies' knowledge and understanding of basic arithmetic processes before the age of 12 months. Sad because it might have reinforced her argument about the non-existence of the concept of developmental appropriateness
And then we get:
When an elementary school declines to teach demanding knowledge and skills at an early age, the school is unwittingly withholding education differentially from different social classes." Students with poor or disadvantaged homes suffer the most, and social injustice is perpetuated."
Fascinating, but I think I’ll dodge the social science and political questions raised here. I’m just not very aware of schools where teachers deliberately disadvantage pupils by not teaching them. The real reason for most problems in this area is the complete failure of the universities, teacher training colleges and the DCSF for not providing proper pedagogical advice and training to young teachers (or older ones for that matter).
quoted S Englemann:
From memory, Zig Englemann makes the point that time is the enemy of disadvantaged children, that they need more of everything and especially more time, therefore they should start earlier not later.
Yes, Zig makes a good point, but I think he would be horrified at it’s positioning within this posting in conjunction with the author's beliefs about the non-existence of any such thing as developmental appropriateness.
Also, many countries where children start formal schooling at a later age are successful because of what takes place in the classroom, ie, intensive teacher-directed instruction, not because the children are older and therefore more 'ready to learn'.
So, given that in these countries they could bring down the age of school entry and start their teaching when their children are younger, why don’t they? I remember a TV documentary about 10-15 years ago where a French professor of education was asked why we send children into formal schooling so young in the UK. He shook his head and replied,”I suppose the English just don’t like their children.”
then finished her with this rather droll comment and (I think
) an attempt at humour:
As for giving little children big crayons, I've often wondered if the genius that came up with this idea in the first place ever tried writing with something as proportionally big and heavy, say a rolling pin instead of a pencil, and asked themselves if it is really such a good idea?
Big crayons are for helping young children make marks on paper. When used as part of Art teaching, like big brushes, they enable children to make large and fine marks and be drawn into understanding the differences in visual effect that result from them. They also facilitate them in practising on a large scale many of the various looping-type marks that at a later stage they will be practising as fine-motor activities with pens or pencils for handwriting. I hadn’t noticed anyone on this thread actually suggesting they should be used directly to teach handwriting. France is a country where handwriting is relatively well taught and the following link shows a little video about a French primary school that is quite instructive on the subject. (I may have come across this as a result of one of Susan Godsland’s posts, and if so I would like to thank her for bringing it my attention.)