Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Aim for Better

Why does higher standards always seem to mean harder rather than better? We seem to have decided, as a society, that if kids can do things at a younger age it is a sign of strong achievement.

I don't buy it.

Many people would be impressed if my first graders were adding two and three digit numbers. They would be wowed to see them measuring items with rulers and yardsticks. First graders identifying complicated fractions would make folks proud. But not me.

I want my first graders to truly understand two and three digit numbers before they add them. I want to know that they comprehend different ways to measure and the need to start at a certain point and end at a certain point. Understanding that fractions are equal parts of a whole is more important to me than being able to write two-sevenths properly.

I believe we do our students a disservice when we push them higher and higher without being sure they got the depth necessary. I'd love to see a study comparing young children who received the time and support to deeply understand concepts compared to students who were pushed to learn more and more and more. I'll put my money on those kids with the deep foundation.

5 comments:

Jim Randolph said...

Yes! I wish we could cut our "standards" by about two-thirds and really focus on the foundational ones and explore them deeply rather than having to cram in, like our 5th grade does, pre-WWI to PRESENT DAY just in social studies. Think they have any kind of deep knowledge of that stuff?

Thanks!

emet said...

Great post Jen! I completely agree and can't help of all those elementary students who are being pushed ahead in math so that they can get on the Algebra track by 7th grade. I would like a study on the students that end up doing poorly in math because they didn't get the foundation you are trying to give your kids. Kudos!

teachermum said...

I wish all those people out there who design our curriculums would realise this. There is so much pressure to move ahead that not enough time is spent on foundations skills or the consolidation of them.
These are the kids who land up needing some sort of remediation when they get up to the higher elementary school levels.

Tracy said...

Love your post! I am actually collecting "data: on students who have had ALL DAY KINDERGARTEN in our district...last year was the 1st year and the students we have this year are VERY immature, unsocial, etc. The focus was then and is still now about how high their reading level is and isn't that great that they can read at a first grade level...BLAH BLAH BLAH! GREAT if they can read; but can they get along with others, solve problems, have correct pencil grasp,the usual things that KINDERGARTEN used to be about.
MY son is IN Kindergarten this year (at my bldg.)...I think it is WONDERFUL that he can read at a level 6 and so on...but I AM NOT WORRIED about that. Can he socialize well with others, does he KNOW HOW TO TAKE TURNS, and so on. Sorry bout my rant...I feel very passionate about this topic and I feel it falls on deaf ears.

Launa Hall said...

I'm betting with you. Great post. I, too, feel great pressure to have my 4 and 5-year-olds in my Pre-K class do what we'd expect of older children. Harder does not mean better, you said, and I would add that sooner does not mean better, either. Childhood is short, as it is.