Film and Podcast -
Film and Podcast -
Kate Zernike’s New York Times article explores how some parents are choosing to tutor their 3-year-old children in order to give them an edge in school. ”Programs like Kumon are gaining from, and generating, parent’s anxiety about what kind of preparation their kids will need.” In the article, Kumon’s North American CFO says that “age 3 is a sweet spot. But if they’re out of a diaper and can sit still with a Kumon instructor for 15 minutes, we will take them.”
“The best you can say is that they’re useless,” said Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, who compared the escalation of supplemental education with Irish elk competing to see which had the biggest antlers. “The result is that they go around tottering, unable to walk, under the enormous weight of these antlers they’ve developed,” she said. “I think it’s true of American parents from high school all the way down to preschool.”
Professor Gopnik said that “we are in a culture where education is the path to success, and it’s hard for people to recognize how deep and profound learning is when children are just playing.”
“When you’re putting blocks together, you’re learning how to be a physicist,” agreed Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a psychologist at Temple University and an author of “Einstein Never Used Flash Cards.” “When you’re learning how to balance things and calculate how tall you can make your building, you’re learning how to be a physicist. Having your kid drill and kill and fill in worksheets at 2 and 3 and 4 to the best of our knowledge so far does not give your child a leg up on anything.”
“Yes, your child might know more of his letters than the child who spent Saturday in the sandbox,” she said. “But the people who are team players, who are creative innovators, they are the ones who are going to invent the next iPad. The kids who are just memorizing are going to be outsourced to the kids in India who have memorized the same stuff.”
Programs like Junior Kumon may not do harm, she said. But they do help push a consensus that young children need more and more structured curriculum.
Read the latest in the NYTimes “School That Doesn’t Compute” thread. An Op-Ed piece by Greg Simon entitled “Invitation to a Dialogue: Computers in School” was written in follow-up to the October 23 article on Waldorf Education: A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute. This article describes why Silicon Valley, Google, and other high-tech parents choose to educate their children in low-tech Waldorf schools.
In his letter Mr Simon’s writes -
“From 1993 to 1997 I was the chief domestic policy adviser to Vice President Al Gore, and oversaw the Clinton administration’s program to connect classrooms to the Internet.
How did I reconcile this? I asked Waldorf teachers when they felt computer learning was appropriate. Answer: around sixth grade, the same grade that the Clinton program aimed to connect.
And here’s why. Waldorf education holds that children learn best “in through the heart, out through the mind.” Let children experience the world through their hands, hearts and bodies, not just their minds.
When overzealous parents brag that their preschoolers can use a computer or iPhone, they are elevating intellectual/technological achievement over child’s play. The irony, of course, is that success in life depends much more on children developing imagination through play than on learning a soon-to-be-obsolete technology, which is why schools are wasting money and failing our children when they spend millions on technology and cancel play time. By sixth grade children are moving out of play and into more intellectual pursuits; hence computers are more appropriate.
I wish that the parents who surround their children with technology and adult-created graphic images as early as 2 years old would realize that they are robbing their children of their greatest treasure and skill — being a child.”
The New York Times invites readers to respond to this letter for their Sunday Dialogue and plans to publish responses and Mr. Simon’s rejoinder in the Sunday Review.
Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ longstanding recommendations to the contrary, children under 8 are spending more time than ever in front of screens, according to a study scheduled for release Tuesday.
The report also documents for the first time an emerging “app gap” in which affluent children are likely to use mobile educational games while those in low-income families are the most likely to have televisions in their bedrooms.
The study, by Common Sense Media, a San Francisco nonprofit group, is the first of its kind since apps became widespread, and the first to look at screen time from birth. It found that almost half the families with incomes above $75,000 had downloaded apps specifically for their young children, compared with one in eight of the families earning less than $30,000. More than a third of those low-income parents said they did not know what an “app” — short for application — was.
“The app gap is a big deal and a harbinger of the future,” said James Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, which had 1,384 parents surveyed this spring for the study. “It’s the beginning of an important shift, ….”
This article appeared in The New York Times on 25th October 2011
For the full article go to - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/us/screen-time-higher-than-ever-for-children-study-finds.html
“LOS ALTOS, Calif. — The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard. But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.”
“I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, 50, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf elementary school; his son William, 13, is at the nearby middle school. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”
Mr. Eagle knows a bit about technology. He holds a computer science degree from Dartmouth and works in executive communications at Google, where he has written speeches for the chairman, Eric E. Schmidt. He uses an iPad and a smartphone. But he says his daughter, a fifth grader, “doesn’t know how to use Google,” and his son is just learning. (Starting in eighth grade, the school endorses the limited use of gadgets.)
Three-quarters of the students here have parents with a strong high-tech connection. Mr. Eagle, like other parents, sees no contradiction. Technology, he says, has its time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.”
Video screen time has no educational benefits for young children and parents of infants and toddlers should limit the time their children spend in front of televisions, computers, self-described educational games and even grown-up shows playing in the background, so warned the American Academy of Pediatrics in a report published in The New York Times.
In particular, the report references recent research on language development, that the more language comes from real people, the more language the child understands and produces later on; that parents use of media is distracting to playtime; and that young children learn a lot more efficiently from real interactions – people and things.
The Waldorf School of Philadelphia have been helping parents navigate the concern of media use and child development since its inception fifteen years ago. The school has a clear media policy (www.phillywaldorf.com/parents) and each year parents participate in a Media Awareness Month, the goal of which is to help support parents conscious use of media with a possible outcome of lowering media use in the home on an ongoing basis.
For the full New York Times article, published on October 18th, 2011 Click Here