The Fallacy of Intellectual Development – Young Children

I’m certainly not an expert in the field. I’m an interested observer and I like to consider how the mind works.

Somewhere
along the line people decided that intellect was additive. If counting
to 10 was an accomplishment one day then counting to 20 was a
reasonable goal for the next. The same for the ABCs, biology, and the
tax code. You continually build on top of what you understood the day
before. Much of this is true, probably 90% of it… except memorization isn’t
understanding. And I feel like repeating an answer back is now the goal
instead of knowing why the answer is the answer. Where is the insight?

What
got me thinking about this was a good piece in the NY Times Magazine on
April 29th, 2009 called Kindergarten Cram. The writer’s (Peggy
Orenstein) point is the ridiculousness of kindergarten age children
having homework. And how it is culturally accepted. I agree that it is
ridiculous. Children that age are developing segments of their mind
that are immensely more important. Here is an excerpt from the article:

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A survey of 254 teachers in New York
and Los Angeles the group commissioned found that kindergartners spent two to
three hours a day being instructed and tested in reading and math. They spent
less than 30 minutes playing. “Play at age 5 is of great importance not just to
intellectual but emotional, psychological social and spiritual development,”
says Edward Miller, the report’s co-author. Play — especially the
let’s-pretend, dramatic sort — is how kids develop higher-level thinking, hone
their language and social skills, cultivate empathy. It also reduces stress,
and that’s a word that should not have to be used in the same sentence as
“kindergartner” in the first place.

Let me reiterate, higher-level thinking is being developed. Creativity,
language and social skills, emotional awareness and control, problem
solving in a dynamic environment, and starting to find an identity
within the community are aspects we don’t want to deprioritize. We
can’t just assume these things will happen and jump to the cognitive
goals we eventually desire.

I understand the fear – that once a child gets behind he or she will
always be behind. But we get wrapped up in what “being behind” is. Is
it something that is a memorization task? I’d rather see “being behind”
mean that a child is paralyzed in their problem solving: if they know
one way to accomplish a goal and if that is unsuccessful they give up.
I find this type of “being behind” troubling on many levels.

So what do you want our kindergarteners to learn?

Working Thoughts 5/5/08
Types of Intelligence and Challenge Approaches

About benleeson
My name is Ben Leeson. I currently work for a large financial company in IT. I went to school at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. I graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration concentrating in HR. Professor William Brown taught me and I enjoyed his classes; even acquiring an appreciation for just about all things HR. I didn’t pursue a job in that field after college but I’ve kept up with it. This blog will further my fascination with all things HR. I hope to grow my knowledge of the area through thoughtful writings and spirited feedback. I will attempt to have a fairly routine style so anyone reading can come to expect certain segments. Please excuse my incorrect grammar and occasional misspelling.

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