In a recent discussion on Facebook, I posted a thought about the concept of School Readiness. The testing of young children to assess whether they are “ready” for school, whether it comes as a masked evaluation of the Centre, or a “group evaluation” aimed at evaluating the teacher, is something I have found profoundly distasteful and unacceptable. Such a ‘measurement’ assumes that some children are capable and ready, while others are not, and those who are can be scaled along a measure of ‘how ready’. This is a contradiction to the whole idea of education and needs a re-think. Evaluating a Centre for the capability to handle children’s learning is a task that should not require children to be able to tell which tree has more apples than the other, even if this is a developmentally appropriate task….not because of the science of children’s cognitive development, but because of the ethical assumptions behind such an evaluation.
Anyway, after posting this on Facebook and also sharing the questions on private messages with friends who are not on Facebook, here is a list that I have created from the conversation, paraphrasing some of the comments that came. For the original ones and names associated, the Facebook link can be followed.
Here is the discussion:
SR 2.0: What should it look like?
1. SR should be redefined as the preparation of schools to recognise, respect, adapt and incorporate children’s cultural background as a resource and not an impediment
2. There is no need for the system (teachers, admin) to KNOW all languages and other cultural and familial details, but to be open to getting to know more about each child and addressing these as a school, the playground, classes, curricula, materials, assessments, guidance.
3. Families should be seen as resources and not people who are ‘invited’ in for complaints, pta meetings, funding, audience for performances alone. Expectations should be adjusted to who the families are in terms of demographics, occupation, structure etc.
4. Children’s learning should not be transferred to families in terms of projects and other tasks, but WHAT children learn at home and in their communities should be invited in as lessons to support classroom learning
5. The term teaching has to be substituted with learning (both by the teachers as well as the child)
I invite your opinions and request you to add to this list, please.
- Well said! Recently I had the opportunity to listen to Prof. Sadgopal on a similar thought
- Happiness in learning should be an objective, liking to enjoy what you learn and to learn what you enjoy. Both are important.
- The public education system was constructed on the factory model. While tweaking it can help, it needs a radical transformation in its approach to teaching, learning and assessing
- Learning should be based on children’s interest and not on teacher decided pre-set curriculum
- Teachers should be trained for observations and facilitation of learning
- I would to hear opinions on children who may have certain challenges. How can 2.0 ensure inclusion in the true sense? How can schools play a role in equipping families to support children’s social and emotional skills at home? As a parent I find it very difficult to cope as it seems the expectations that are set in school are different from what the child needs. Thoughts?
- So the label should be also revise into the readiness of school in order to move the focus from the readiness of child for school to the readiness of school for children. I isn’t easy to change meaning without changing the label
- I don’t know if it makes sense. I agree with all your points but I have been feeling lately, specially in these precarious times, that as much as we focus on a child’s school readiness, we really need an assessment scale/tool for couples/individuals if they are ready to become parents
- Yes, this is the essence. Our schools need to be prepared to welcome children and make each one feel included / accepted. Early schooling is about exploring what children and teachers know / experience, an opportunity to share and celebrate. This way it is possible to open the hearts and minds of teachers and children, invite families to join the exciting journey…
- Connection before curriculum- thinking of ways in which social emotional learning can be weaved in through the instruction time in the classroom instead of thinking about it as a stand alone time/class. Really getting to know the kids before starting with the teaching and learning part- adapt your plans according to what the learners need and relate to rather than something done only for assessments
- Absolutely agree. We cannot make getting educated itself too difficult. Parents and children should be seen as equal partners in this process call “education”
- It should not be difficult at all, kids should be able to walk in to school and feel welcomed. This awful industry of ‘selecting for merit’ before entry has got to go. yes, this sorting and ranking will only demotivate the kids left behind….. we should use assessments to fix the system not judge them or put them in boxes. we’ve really screwed up our education system. Had we focused and prioritised much earlier, we’d be so much better and ahead today!
- School and family saath saath totally
- * SR to be reimagined as a shared responsibility amongst teachers, family, caregivers, and community with clear, simple and robust outcomes towards the well-being of the child.
- * SR curriculum to include experiences, routines and interactions at an early years setting and within the family keeping a child’s generic and unique needs, interests and strengths at the centre.
- *SR focus to be a beginning of the learners journey of everyday life readiness wherein the learner is increasingly a more empathic, resilient, caring, learning seeking and an active citizen.
- *Educators to be empowered and enabled to be advocates for children, their respect, dignity and self worth, their rights as well as their families cultures and practices.
- I just spent hours and hours teaching the kids – science of the teeth for one, 3 days of notes, integers for the other. Integers are tough, counter intuitive and confusing. They have gone from concepts to sums and story sums in 6 classes, tomorrow is a test. This is no way to teach children maths. Both she and I are frustrated and exhausted. It is better not to teach topics at all than to do it in this way and inculcate a dislike of maths and learning in kids. I am in tears as I write this. What are we supposed to do? School is torture.
- I remember when teaching at a comprehensive school in London, when a child was entering/starting school, the kindergarten teacher would visit his her/her home to get familiar with how he /she was raised. his relationship with parents, siblings. his/her access to toys and other comforts. this prepared the teacher to understand his/ her strengths/and other area where he could be slow or lacking. the learning that the child came in with was understood and used for assisting further learning.
- Also, the pandemic has shown the importance of decentralization in education, acknowledging parents as imperative stakeholders irrespective of their literacy level and nurturing the early experiences of children in the most contextualize way
- We cannot expect our children to follow what we don’t practice..if the parent does not follow traffic rules the child will never…when I was teaching 4-5 yr-olds they were a handful…..intelligent, inquisitive, curious, smart, naughty…..almost all scores used to be settled on the way to and from the washroom whether they were girls or boys ..so I used to count the steps to the washroom and time taken when the usual 10 kids asked to go to the washroom I’d let them, but my counting would start LOUD AND CLEAR with the statement that if they didn’t comeback before I reached 30, I would come looking. There were a lot of complaints from the children and negotiations…well after trials and errors, the class came to the conclusion that I was the sort of teacher who would land up ANYWHERE looking for her kids; so after initial hiccups I had a smooth sailing time…or so I thought, till one day I needed to go to the washroom. After telling the class and leaving the assistant as a stand-in, I left ..the class had been given classwork and the Principal happened to take a round with some visiting officials and entered my classroom. Before the assistant could say or do anything, the class monitor informed the Principal where I was, and said that I had appointed the assistant to keep an eye on the class. The students came looking for me, making a long line between the classroom and toilet and announced “The Proncipal is looking for you”. When I returned to the class, the Principal and the visitors burst out laughing. Children watch what you do very closely and we have to be open about that and even welcome it.
- School readiness should be about understanding the “whole” child, including the way child learns, their personalities, interests, family values, learning at home. In PTMs, there is no mention of these things. They are only about academic learning like how many words and numbers they know etc. My son has started formal school this year and I can see the difference from early childhood approach.
- Parents and teachers need to work as team for ‘real learning’ to happen.
- Educating a child to merely achieve academic outcomes is possible with teachers assuming their role. However holistic learning can take place only when schools draw out from what children learn at home. And these days with children being at home all the time, the above points are more relevant than ever before
- I remember Dr. Anandalakshmy mentioning that when children are happy, curious and active, this means they are welcomed. So I would say, can the teacher further ignite the child’s already curious mind? Children should have the freedom to “ask questions”. Unfortunately, children’s questions are often seen as defiance or precociousness, this is very unfortunate. Readiness means the readiness to accept and eagerness to invite children’s questions.
- Parents are usually considered dispensable, only to be blamed if things go wrong. Schools should be prepared for engaging with parents but it also goes both ways. Sometimes, I have seen parents issuing diktats about what should be done. There has to be a balance, with the child at the centre.