Anechka, before I reply to your original post, there are some things I should point out about my own bias here:
1) I have yet to read any replies. Your original post raised many responses that may have already been brought up and addressed. I want to organize my thoughts on the original post before moving on to others.
2) I come from a VERY different perspective with education. I'm a Montessori teacher and grew up in Montessori schools. So what I suggest will mostly be from that experience. I'll try to point out where
I see clear differences between Montessori and most traditional systems of education.
3) I believe early childhood education is the key to stopping many of the problems you raise, but I'll bring that up more as I reply.
4) I had a lot to say initially and was unsure how to structure my reply. For the sake of making this easier, I am going through your post paragraphy by paragraph and replying. I hope you see this as making it easier than as a way to pick apart your post.
5) My comma on my keyboard is not working well, so I hope you can apologize any grammar errors if I leave out a comma. haha.
Originally Posted by anechka
I am a recent transplant from Russia, and I am very much dismayed over the American society’s heavy emphasis on early childhood education. Is it really necessary to begin educating kids very early in life?
Yes, but it must be done appropriately, which many programs are not. A major goal of education should be to develop the love of learning. Studies show that many students lose an interest in school by 2nd or 3rd grade, which shows us that many things are not working well with the current way we do things. What is essential is developing a child's:
--Concentration (not ability to pay attention. There is a huge difference)
--Curiosity and love of learning
--Respect for others
These things can happen in the right home environment as well, but in the correct environment, there are huge advantages to having them in a program that does help with this. For example, I don't know any person that readily wants to spend $30,000 for Montessori classroom materials as well as taking special training courses to learn how to work with them and present them; among other things.
|That being said, I believe that there is no real need to send children as young as 4 or 5 to the school. At that age children should be mostly playing, preferably outside! and not spending hours doing homework.
You're talking about two different issues. Going to school and spending hours on homework are two COMPLETELY different issues.
|Now I teach college here, in the US and so many of my students read and write very poorly and are not able to communicate their ideas effectively.
That's actually a recent phenomenon on the scale it is on. There are many reasons for it, including the standard base testing we have now in place, the rise of the internet and having a "fast" answer to almost any question, and many other factors. It has nothing to do, as far as I can see, with the fact that students are in school early. If that is a factor, it would be more the way the school is run...not the fact that they are there learning.
|However, from my private conversations with them, I gather that they "learned how to read" when they were 4 or 5, and did basic math by the age 6. They spent 12!!!! years in school and the end result is such that they are utterly academically underprepared. I really do not know what to think of it. Any thoughts?
Your answer is in your question. Sounds like they had a good early childhood education program, but not a good elementary school program, which would fit what I said; especially when it comes to the testing our government has decided to adopt.
What your suggesting is actually quite opposite for me. From my experience, children tend to discover they can read (different from being taught how to read) between the ages of 4-6 in the right environment. They love it and the benefit of depriving a child from doing something educational they love doesn't seem to exist as far as I can see.