Stories & Grievances
The Kindergarden Fraud
by Ron Isaac New York Resident, June 7, 2004
New York Resident
June 7, 2004
The Kindergarten Fraud
by R. M Isaac
The New York City Council has called for increased funding of early childhood education. Speaker Gifford Miller is seeking realistic ways of helping our public school children as opposed to the Bloomberg/Klein jump through my hoop approach. This is expecting a lot.
Unless you are home-tutoring, your child in kindergarten is getting off to a shaky start. He will leave kindergarten with no solid grasp of the alphabet, the sound of vowels, or the role they play in making words. He will have no foundation on which to build his reading and writing skills. His knowledge of numbers will be similarly spotty and weak. The throttle hold of "progressive education" will stifle his confidence and every potential expression of his individuality.
Political radicalism has taken hold of much of the educational industry. Educational publishers march to the tune of the dollar and know that their bread is buttered by the theorists and academic research engines of the academic "ivory towers." Not all radicalism is fraud. True radicals of the arts, for example, take radically new paths that are natural departures from paths already understood and mastered. Their re-inventions are not fraud or tomfoolery. But the radicals of "progressive" education are the equivalent of the artist who puts a sacred sculpture in a tank of urine and calls himself "cutting edge."
"Star Name" is what they call their wacky and troublesome introduction to the alphabet. Kindergarten kids spend half a year supposedly learning by "noticing" letters in their classmates' names. The backbone of their learning is copying down the name for a week. No longer may kids sing the alphabet. No more do they become familiar with letters and their sounds at the same time that they see them in common words. Nevermore are the letters of the alphabet learned in sequence . It is now unheard of to work on one letter thoroughly for days. Other casualties of the slaying of common sense in education are lessons on when to use a capital, a comma, and to start a new paragraph. The only thing that is progressive is failure itself.
Carmen Farina, Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, and successor to the scam-scarred Diana Lam, shares her forerunner's taste for methods that have not survived the trials of legitimate educational research and practice. She and her allies always have a high-brow defense, usually centered around the bugaboo of memorization and mental discipline as enemies of creativity and self-esteem.
Do you want your child being told that there is no such thing as an "incorrect" spelling, just an "invented" one? Are you content to have your child disabled in math, unable to add, subtract, multiply and divide, just because of a fashionable view that concepts, not computation, are all that matters? (Tell that to an airline pilot navigating through an electrical storm at thirty-five thousand feet with your beloved human cargo!) This failure across the curriculum links all subjects and elementary school grades.
Basic skills and a well-rounded learning adventure in the classroom are old hat. For generations, kindergarten children were guided in the discovery of nature, art, and socialization. These were linked in a way we all remember fondly. We were shown how to wield a paintbrush, paint a human face, make musical sounds. We developed manual and fine motor skills by crayoning, gluing and cutting with scissors. Denied these, kids in record numbers are being already enrolled in "occupational therapy" programs.
Teaching in this atmosphere is frustrating. But the beauty of reaching children's minds gives satisfaction beyond words. Sadly, when learning triumphs, it is despite the school system, not because of it.