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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-02-10 03:33 AM
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Playing to Learn
THE Obama administration is planning some big changes to how we measure the success or failure of schools and how we apportion federal money based on those assessments. Its great that the administration is trying to undertake reforms, but if we want to make sure all children learn, we will need to overhaul the curriculum itself. Our current educational approach and the testing that is driving it is completely at odds with what scientists understand about how children develop during the elementary school years and has led to a curriculum that is strangling children and teachers alike.

In order to design a curriculum that teaches what truly matters, educators should remember a basic precept of modern developmental science: developmental precursors dont always resemble the skill to which they are leading. For example, saying the alphabet does not particularly help children learn to read. But having extended and complex conversations during toddlerhood does. Simply put, what children need to do in elementary school is not to cram for high school or college, but to develop ways of thinking and behaving that will lead to valuable knowledge and skills later on.

So what should children be able to do by age 12, or the time they leave elementary school? They should be able to read a chapter book, write a story and a compelling essay; know how to add, subtract, divide and multiply numbers; detect patterns in complex phenomena; use evidence to support an opinion; be part of a group of people who are not their family; and engage in an exchange of ideas in conversation. If all elementary school students mastered these abilities, they would be prepared to learn almost anything in high school and college.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/02/opinion/02engel.html?...
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