Friday, February 26, 2016

Comparing Education in America to Other Countries

If you want some interesting insights into how America compares in education with Finland, France, and Slovenia; and at the same time be thoroughly entertained, check out Michael Moore's new movie "Where to Invade Next." When I saw it last week I laughed, applauded, and enjoyed hearing the rest of the audience do the same. It received a standing ovation at the end. How many movies have you seen that provokes that?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Kid Klassical Konsiderations

Here are some ideas to entice children — and adults for that matter — into appreciating classical music.

Classical composers were noted for humanizing instruments by having them represent bees, animals, scenes, and events. Here are four compositions that are perfect for having children hear instruments and "see" in their mind's eye living things and scenes. The first three classical pieces are linked to YouTube videos and the fourth video is embedded below.

"Flight of the Bumblebee" Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakof
"Carnival of the Animals" Camille Saint-Saens
"Pictures at an Exhibition" Modest Mussorgsky
"Peter and the Wolf" by Sergei Prokofiev

Friday, February 5, 2016

The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids

The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids” by Erika Christakis found in the The Atlantic Jan/Feb 2016 issue says so much about the education we are giving our preschoolers. Here are several quotes from the article, but if you value early childhood education — either as a parent or an educator — you should read the entire piece:
  • “But now that kindergarten serves as a gatekeeper, not a welcome mat, to elementary school, concerns about school preparedness kick in earlier and earlier.”
  • “The same educational policies that are pushing academic goals down to ever earlier levels seem to be contributing to—while at the same time obscuring—the fact that young children are gaining fewer skills, not more.”
  • “Starting in the early 2000s, though, a confluence of forces began pushing preferences ever further in the direction of preparation: the increasing numbers of dual-career families scrambling to arrange child care; a new scientific focus on the cognitive potential of the early years; and concerns about growing ability gaps between well-off and disadvantaged children, which in turn fueled the trend of standards-based testing in public schools.”
  • “Nearly three-quarters of American 4-year-olds are now in some kind of non-family care.”
  • “Having rejected many of the pseudo-academic benchmarks that can, and do, fit on a scorecard, preschool teachers in Finland are free to focus on what’s really essential: their relationship with the growing child.”
  • “Here’s what the Finns, who don’t begin formal reading instruction until around age 7, have to say about preparing preschoolers to read: ‘The basis for the beginnings of literacy is that children have heard and listened … They have spoken and been spoken to, people have discussed [things] with them … They have asked questions and received answers.’ "