Letters to the Editor

Pre-k experience

August 29, 2010

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To the editor:

Regarding the Journal-World article, “Preschoolers take dip into academic pool,” I would like to clarify one of the statements made in the article. When it was noted that I said children were “learning how to sit and listen and stay on task,” I was referring to the circle/story time the children were engaged in.

A comment following the article online said, and I quote “Welcome to the factory, kids. How sad.” When describing our pre-k classrooms at Kennedy, these are two words that would NEVER come to my mind. In our rooms, teachers set up language-rich environments which give our students wonderful learning experiences through play and active exploration. Social interactions are constantly encouraged.

The children in our care are given opportunities to learn in centers including home area, math, science, sensory (aka “the pool”), library, blocks, writing, art and cozy corner. The majority of our day, children are actively engaged with classroom and outdoor materials. In the pre-K rooms at Kennedy, you will see a balance of active times as well as quiet times — and there is certainly nothing “sad” or “factory-like” about that!

Finally, I would like to thank the Journal-World staff for spotlighting my pre-k classroom. I just felt the need to clarify my philosophy of teaching young children. From my perspective, it’s a wonderful program that serves some of the best families and children in the community! I am proud to be part of it.

Donna Lang,

Pre-K Teacher,

Kennedy School

Comments

Practicality 4 years, 11 months ago

Don't stress the comments Donna. Someone is always going to complain. Keep up the good work.

rtwngr 4 years, 11 months ago

Donna, thank you for the work you do. Please don't let the obtuse comments on these blogs offend you in any way.

FreshAirFanatic 4 years, 11 months ago

Practicality...I made the comment. No complaining here, just stating what many now see as obvious.

For the next 12-16 years these kids are going to be taught how to conform, how to regurgitate information without knowing any context, how staying quiet is safer, why it's better to not ask "why?" and most importantly, to think all they can ever do is what they are educated to do. Any creativity and self-expression seen in these 4 yr olds will be systematically squashed the further they go in school.

Don't believe me? Ask a 4 yr old to draw a horse and they'll do it. Ask a 30 yr old and they'll say they can't because they aren't an artist.

Our current education system is built upon the idea that factories [and this encompasses everything from factories to white collar jobs of repetition and cubicles] need workers. Workers do what they are told and don't ask questions. Workers trade freedom for safety. Workers then complain when they find out someone who didn't follow their path has more than they do.

Unfortunately, we very rarely give kids a choice to decide for themselves which path they want to choose. "Just be quiet, sit still, listen to the person in charge and stay on task."

You don't find that sad?

grammaddy 4 years, 11 months ago

I'd like to see you handle a dozen pre-K kids without teaching them to sit down, be quiet and listen. 4 year olds should be guided in their choices. If I only followed my 4 year old grandson's choices, it would be peanut butter and jelly, "Upside Down Show", and flip flops 24/7.That's not going to get him into college.

parrothead8 4 years, 11 months ago

Says the guy who has never said anything here to indicate any amount of expertise with education...or common sense.

seriouscat 4 years, 11 months ago

Fresh Air; yes that's sad but it's not this teachers fault. Are you making sure the right decision makers are hearing your view and offering up ideas for change? Vilifying hard working teachers who sincerely want the best for the kids ain't gonna do it!

And for Donna, you have a tough job in your position. When it gets particularly rough, don't forget to laugh:

Good luck with your kiddoes!

FreshAirFanatic 4 years, 11 months ago

Nowhere did I vilify a specific teacher. I'm targeting the system itself.

Exactly which decision makers are you referring to? The DOE? Teacher's Union? My recommendations threaten everything they do so that obviously won't work.

How about parents who send their kids to social education and expect little else? No that won't work either. They'll just say they don't have any choice. I mean, they can't really teach their own kids because they don't have a teaching certificate.

Oh...I know...how about the school board. No...their too busy asking for more money because if they could just get a few million more, then we'd have everything fixed.

My hope seriouscat is that just 1 parent reads this and gives greater consideration to the type of education their children receives. That instead of telling them to get in lockstep, they encourage them to do what excites them. Work where they have a passion. To learn how to be leaders and motivators and creators and envelope pushers and entrepreneurs and outside-the-box thinkers.

That won't happen by focusing on standardized tests and kids who may be left behind.

RiverCityConservative 4 years, 11 months ago

You must not have run into any in your experience. That is sad indeed. Let me name some of the hard-working teachers who have influenced my life and to whom I am deeply grateful. Mrs. Esfeld (4th grade) , Mrs. Marietta (9th grade English), Mrs. Law (9th grade Spanish), Mrs. Cross (10th grade English), Mrs. Duncan (10th grade Spanish), Mr. Wagner (11th grade Algebra), Mrs. Trowbridge (11th grade English), Mr. Cochran (11th grade History), Mrs. Nebergall (12th grade English), Mr. John Mohn (12th grade journalism), Prof. Warner Morse (intro to philosophy), Prof. Raymond Souza (Spanish literature), Prof. Richard Eversole (English literature), Prof. Peter Casagrande (English literature), Prof. Willingham (English literature), Prof. Gerhardt Zuther (English literature), Prof. Brower Burchill (Biology), Prof. Frances Ingemann (Phonetics), Prof. Michael M.T. Henderson (Linguistics), Prof. Edward Erazmus (Teaching English as a Second Language), Prof. O. Dean Gregory (Applied Linguistics), Prof. Fred Rodriguez (Multicultural Education), and many others, and I'm only up to 1984 with this list.... Glad I had hard working teachers who also made me work hard. Ever grateful,

RiverCityConservative 4 years, 11 months ago

That's a nice reply. Somewhere along the line you've had a hard working teacher or two, quite obviously. :)

parrothead8 4 years, 11 months ago

You forgot the third option: that good teachers teach, not indoctrinate. Based on most of the comments you make around here, it seems you've been indoctrinated.

Kelly Johnson 4 years, 11 months ago

Lawrenceguy40, what point are you trying to make? You're being very insulting and I don't understand why. Rather than just say mean, generalized statements that don't really make a point, could you elaborate on the specific issues you're unhappy with?

ResQd 4 years, 11 months ago

KUDO to anyone who can be around that many 4 year olds and find educational and creative things for them to do. My hat is off to you!

Success 4 years, 11 months ago

Donna does a great job. We are all fortunate to have her teaching our kids.

RiverCityConservative 4 years, 11 months ago

The pre-school and pre-K ages are the most crucial in an individual's educational experience, because behaviors, routines, styles, and personal preferences are being laid down as patterns or lattices for future learning challenges. A group of 4 year olds learning together is not the chaotic, purposeless playtime that lawrence 40 suggests. One of the most important lessons that will pay many dividends throughout life is learning how to work and play together with others in a social setting. There is a certain amount of indoctrination, namely, into how to live in a democracy, how to live together with others in a community, in a society that values individual freedom, mutual respect, and good manners.

In pre-K, the teacher is continually observing and evaluating how a child is progressing in a number of different areas of skill, knowledge, and awareness. The level of detail in these observations is considerable, and the level of accountability is, if anything, excessive in today's NCLB context.

I have four children, and I have seen all four go through early childhood learning experiences in their own unique ways. Certainly much of what they have learned at those ages was started at home and reinforced at school, as well as vice versa. I do not believe there is another teacher more important in a child's total education and life experience than their earliest teachers.

I am guessing that lawrence 40 also had some wonderful attention when he or she was that age, and that teachers and other caregivers reinforced his or her obviously highly developed sense of humor, especially sarcasm. We can thank them for helping to cultivate this gift, and I mean that sincerely.

Viva Donna Lang! Viva all the hard-working teachers like her who make all the difference.

runningscooter 4 years, 11 months ago

My daughter had a great experience at East Heights, now located at Kennedy. She had highly educated teachers and every resource available to preschoolers. I'm so proud to say she attended East Heights and I know it will continue to be a top notch program.

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