The image of kindergartners touching iPad screens for letters of the alphabet makes concrete the promise of five year-olds reading soon. Another technological miracle.
Mauri Dufour, a K-6 interventionist, showed a video of kindergarten students learning their letters on an iPad. Four letters popped up on the screen. Students had to quickly identify which one was a B or a P or an M. The 5-year-olds correctly identified the letters, laughing as they worked.
Dufour said last fall she was working with one kindergartner who was struggling to learn his letters. She handed him her iPad, which has programs for children to learn letters and sounds. Within two weeks, he knew 12 to 14 letters. And within six to eight weeks, the boy knew all of his letters. He was back in class doing grade-level work.
Early childhood education has experienced value-driven ideological cycles in preschools, kindergarten, and primary grades since the late-19th century alternating between programs that are child-centered (i.e., play, exploration, discovery) and academic learning (i.e., basic reading and math skills). Even though in 2011 there are many child-centered (and hybrid) kindergartens and preschools that include age-appropriate academic knowledge and skills, in the past three decades, kindergartens and preschools including Head Start (established in the mid-1960s) have shifted toward academic boot camps for the primary grades.
Since NCLB, The sole focus on academically preparing high school students for college and the labor market has filtered down into middle schools (got to take Algebra!) and elementary grades with increased homework and testing. And, finally, slammed into kindergarten and preschool. Now kindergartners have homework. Five year-olds are tested for recognition of letters, colors, and counting numbers. Just as high school is now supposed to prepare graduates for college, preschools and kindergartens are supposed to prepare children for the rigors of reading, math, science, and testing in elementary school.
כאחרית דבר למאמרון הזה, יש טעם להזכיר עד לאיזו מידה של גיחוך הדברים יכולים להגיע. לפני חודש העיתונים בניו יורק דיווחו על תביעה משפטית של אם לילדה בת ארבע. האם טוענת שבגן שאליו היא שלחה את בתה, בעלות של $19,000 לשנה, הבת נאלצה לבלות במשחק עם בני שנתיים ושלוש במרבית הזמן, במקום שהיא תעסוק בהכנות למבחנים כדי שהיא תוכל להתקבל לבית ספר יסודי מובחר. בלשון התביעה (לפי הניו יורק טיימס):
The school proved to be not a school at all, but just one big playroom.