And we have this, which comes straight from the Link to Shit That You Cherry-Pick Because You Think It Supports Your Negligence department.
The premise of the article is that children will just learn to read all by themselves, the way they learn to walk. Just leave them alone, let them play, and it will miraculously happen. You don’t have to do anything at all.
Nicole quotes one little paragraph, which, of course, she thinks totally justifies the Naugler educational system known as Do Nothing At All.
The guy’s major points are these:
Children learn at different rates. Some learn to walk younger than others. That’s normal. And some learn to read younger than others. That is normal too.
I have no quarrel with that concept.
If children want to read, they will learn to read. He cites the increased literacy of the European population after the invention of the printing press as evidence.
And again, I get the idea. Certainly, if a child sees a need to do something, be it using a skateboard or reading a book or in our experience, playing a guitar, he will teach himself to do it.
And maybe not.
What about my husband’s step-father? He’s no longer living, but he was functionally illiterate, to the point that he could not read road signs (except the few he had to memorize in order to get a driver’s license). He wasn’t learning-disabled to my knowledge. He held down a very good job, better than either Joe or Nicole have ever had. His job didn’t require reading.
His situation was the result of several things: poverty as a child, sporadic school attendance, and World War II. I don’t know what grade he was in when he dropped out of school, but he wasn’t out of elementary school. He went to work as soon as he possibly could, and then went off to war.
Why didn’t he ever learn to read all on his own? Certainly his life would have been easier if he had. He constantly had to figure out how to maneuver society without being able to read. But he never did.
In many ways, his life mirrored the Naugler children. Poverty. Few opportunities. Work at an early age.
How much reading do you need to play in the woods on the Blessed Little Property? How much reading is required to wash dogs? Exactly when and how are these children being exposed to situations that would encourage them to learn anything at all?
There is a real danger here that this idea, that children will learn when they want to learn, somehow puts the burden of succeeding on the child. If he fails to learn, well, it’s his own fault. It’s not Nicole’s or Joe’s fault for not providing their kids with educational opportunity. It’s the children’s own fault because hell, they didn’t really want to learn.
I was curious about the writer of the article, so I did a bit of looking.
I will admit that I get turned off almost immediately by somebody who calls himself “Teacher Tom.” It’s way too much like “Groomer Nicole.”
But he teaches preschool at a “cooperative school.” What in the hell is that?
So, it’s a private, non-profit school and it has one teacher. In this case, guess who that is?
You’re right. It’s Teacher Tom.
I was curious about Teacher Tom’s qualifications so I tried to find them. I was unsuccessful. He just says that he’s a “preschool teacher.” And the site above says “skilled preschool teacher.” Nothing about his education. I gave up trying. I have learned that when people avoid telling you what their educational level is, it’s either substandard or not relevant. That doesn’t mean that Teacher Tom is a bad teacher. He might be a great teacher. He might also suck dirt. And if he told me that he had a Ph. D. in early childhood education, he might be a great teacher and he might also suck dirt. But avoiding telling me anything at all just bothers me.
Oddly, he has a parent-teacher in his preschool. Here’s what the site says about her education.
I am a graduate of the University of Michigan and am currently gaining more early childhood education knowledge at North Seattle College.
That’s great. Good relevant information. I like knowing that. Why doesn’t Teacher Tom tell us something similar?
But more about Teacher Tom.
Ah, he supports public education.
Do you reckon Teacher Tom would think that doing nothing at all, providing your children with no toys to speak of, no educational materials beyond some pencils and one Kindle and a few library books, no guidance of any kind, and little to no interaction with other children except for their siblings for their entire childhood is “education”?
I doubt it.
But anyway, we have a guy here who is writing a blog piece about teaching reading. He teaches pre-schoolers. He doesn’t have to teach anyone to read anything. Pre-school children are not expected to learn to read. They aren’t expected to learn much of anything at all that we would consider “academic.” That’s why it’s called “pre-school.”
He is a staunch believer in something he calls “play-based learning.”
Of course he is.
He operates a pre-school. What else, exactly, are they supposed to do there?
But what is play-based learning?
It’s basically the idea that children learn as they play. I don’t argue with that at all. I think everyone learns as they play. Here’s an example, from just last night, involving my decidedly senior-citizen husband. He bought a hornet trap at Lowe’s yesterday. He took it out of the package to bait it and put it together and hang it.
My husband is the “play with shit until you figure it out” kind of person. I am not. I am the “read the damned instructions, you idiot, and you will figure it out in ten seconds instead of thirty minutes” type. We each have our strengths and our weaknesses. In his case, playing with stuff is often very useful. In figuring things out and having used this technique for many decades, he almost instinctively knows how stuff works. He can “see” it. Often I cannot. I have to read the instructions, step-by-step, and understand and do each one. If I skip Step 4, I cannot do Step 5.
As you can imagine, sometimes we drive each other crazy.
And what we’ve discovered over the years is that when it comes to hands-on stuff like building projects, Dave is light-years ahead of me. He can put stuff together rapidly and often effortlessly. We once worked together laying brick for a well house. He did three walls while I did one (I’m slow). And that well house is a testament to how badly I perform when it comes to laying brick. My wall is all crooked and weird. His are perfect. He can “see” level. I cannot.
But when it comes to fiddly, booky stuff like website design or tax returns, I’m the go-to person. That’s because I read the instructions and do not play around and fuck it all up. I get it done faster that way.
Different people. Different styles. We partner and it works great, except when he is trying to put together a hornet trap and won’t read the damned instructions. I intervened and “helped” and he got done way faster. It was one of those times when he just couldn’t visualize the completed device. I couldn’t either, but that’s when you read the instructions.
So back to Dave’s step-father. He, too, was a “play with it until you figure it out” kind of guy. He had to be. He couldn’t have read the instructions. Maybe he was just able to to “play with it until you figure it out” throughout his whole life and never felt any need to learn to read. I’ll never know, of course.
But according to the “play-based learning” folks, you just let kids play and they figure it out.
And frankly, I’ve watched Dave do this for 46 years, and there’s something to it. It’s not a bad thing. I’m all in favor of it.
However, I am also in favor of learning to read well, so when your efforts at figuring it out fail, you can read the instructions.
This is from a public high school trigonometry class. I find it very intriguing. The teacher obviously is making sure the students understand that there are practical uses for what they are learning.
This is not, by the way, some bullshit thing I found on the internet. This is an actual problem given to me by a friend whose child is in the class.
Here’s that child’s answer to the problem.
Several things are happening here.
First, I was pretty much lost at the words “dimensional analysis.”
Second, this teacher has created a situation where this student was able to “try on” the role of defense attorney. He did this in a math class. I am impressed.
Third, the student was able to come to the very good, logical and scientifically sound conclusion that “a hard copy of pure evidence is more reliable than just taking someone’s word.” I was forty before I began to understand that.
Fourth, this is a public school.
Here are the links embedded in that quote.
So says Teacher Tom.
But he also does this.