About Me

My photo
Certified PreK-6. Masters in Child Development. Advocate for play, teacher & children choice, & the family's voice. Believe in volunteering as social justice.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

But I Am Writing

I've always been an advocate for playful and meaningful literacy learning. In a community that values reading and writing as necessary skills for success and also as forms of entertainment and pleasure, it never ceases to amaze me that learning standards are consistently used as a case for rote literacy rather than authentic literacy. (Side note, I know many amazing teachers who teach with authenticity, it's not their children I'm concerned about. It's the larger societal push for standards to the point of removing meaning from what a child is doing.) As I've been spending the past few months digging deeper into language development of young children, my concern is ever increasing.

Research tells us that children construct their learning and that language is no different. Children are very capable of using the world and people around them as tools for building their understanding. So for a child who passionately reads picture books and writes on whatever they can get a hold off, going to school and being told that now they are going to learn to read and write is rather ludicrous. They are already reading and writing! School is in place to help children continue to construct their understanding, not to start from scratch.

The three year old often watches me while I do work for grad school. He constantly sees me reading and writing notes. Yesterday he worked beside me as I read and this is what he wrote. He wrote from left to right, highlighted the important part of his writing, and even drew an arrow to show him a very important piece. This is writing. And excellent writing at that.

This, on the other hand, is not writing. This is a rote practice activity in which his preschool teachers want him to correctly form the letter symbol. This has no meaning to him. When I asked him what he wrote he said, "nothing, it's just some letters". He's right of course, the note that he wrote was full of meaning and written for a purpose, this worksheet was not.

In our haste to conform to standards we often forget the child. We forget that they construct their knowledge based on the authentic "whole". It's important to know letters, but it's more important to know them in a real and meaningful way.

No comments:

Post a Comment