April 16, 2024

Resisting Schoolification

To take children seriously is to value them for who they are right now rather than adults-in-the-making.
– Alfie Kohn, American author and lecturer

In her popular book, Illuminating Care, Carol Garboden Murray defines “schoolification” this way: “When ECE settings are driven to adopt practices that come from elementary schools, such as more teacher-driven activities, greater attention to academic content, skill and still pedagogies, and less care and very little play.”

More and more, through all phases of education, the trend to ask children to do something they are not yet developmentally equipped for is becoming all too common.

An article on the We Are Teachers website discusses the dangers of the misguided idea that children must continually be practicing for the next phase of their lives (ultimately so they are ready for college and career), which means they are constantly being asked to do inappropriate tasks.

The article explains, “Our focus on ‘college and career readiness’ is training teachers, not students…

“It’s training us to force boring, ‘rigorous’ activities on curious, active kids because ‘they’ll need to know how to do this next year.’

“It’s training us to discipline our way through too little recess, too few breaks, and a shortage of joy in the name of increased instructional time.

“It’s training us to battle little kids incessantly as we try to coerce them into tasks their brains aren’t ready for.

“This training doesn’t result in kids who are college and career ready. It results in kids who are anxious, bored, disruptive, and unhealthy.”

The article discusses the fallacy of trying to make children learn something before they are ready, explaining that “we can’t make kids’ brains develop faster. It’s like when people potty-train their 6-month-old. You can (maybe?) teach them to let you know when they need to poop, but they still can’t get to the bathroom and do it themselves. The parents train themselves, not the child. But you can certainly make yourself crazy in the process…Age-inappropriate instruction isn’t working for anybody.”

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