Preventing Early Learning Failure

By Bob Sornson | Go to book overview

12
GETTING READY FOR
SCHOOL IN PRESCHOOL

Lawrence J. Schweinhart

The circumstances and events of early childhood stand at the beginning of life, affecting all that follows. This fact is so obvious that even partial denials of it ought to require explanation. Instead, early childhood advocates have assumed the burden of proof, celebrating the findings of program effects and brain research. Perhaps the simple fact of early childhood primacy has become disputed because the confidence it inspires can easily become overconfidence. Life is complex. All human behavior, including the complex sets of behavior involved in school and life success, has a thousand causes, and the ones closest to the act itself are easiest to relate to it. Seeing the roots of adult behavior in early childhood requires a perceptive vision that easily expands into exuberant speculation, a sort of reverse fortune-telling. Careful research on the long-term effects of early childhood programs accurately calibrates our expectations and shows us where to strike the best balance between optimism and pessimism.

Then there is the fact that school begins at age 5 or 6 just about everywhere in the world. Societies equate school with reading, writing, and arithmetic, and these written-symbol processing abilities arise at that age. But to engage in early childhood education, one needs a broader definition of what learning is all about—a definition that encompasses sensory experience as well as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Some people readily embrace this new definition, while others insist on the old, narrow one.

-110-

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