Monday, January 5, 2015

Einstein Never Used Flash Cards...

Einstein Never Used Flash Cards by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff gives a refreshing perspective on early child development and education in a society that strives for bigger, better, faster.  After years of study and raising healthy productive kids of their own, the authors encourage parents to provide a nurturing home life with imaginative play.  They advocate three new R's: Reflect, Resist, and Re-Center.

Chapter one lays the foundation with a plethora of statistics and data showing how our race to improve education is actually making it worse for our children.  "In 1981, a typical school-age child had about 40 percent of her time open for play.  By 1997, that time for play had diminished to 25 percent.  Further, 40 percent of school districts in America have even eliminated recess."  A few paragraphs later, they state "our children are suffering from excessive depression and anxiety"...."From 1980 to 1997, the number of 10- to 14-year-olds who committed suicide increased an astounding 109 percent."  This is a staggering statistic!  In an increased effort for intelligence, we've eliminated play time and increased suicide among adolescents. 

Subsequent chapters tell how children are wired and how they learn.  The book primarily focuses on early childhood, from birth to about age 5/6.  The subjects of learning discussed are mathematics and language arts.  The later chapters also include developing a child's sense of self, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence vs. IQ.  

Surprisingly, the message of Einstein Never Used Flash Cards appears christian and fits well with Charlotte Mason's philosophy.  The authors list four unhealthy assumptions made by parents and educators as a result of fear and guilt created by modern scientific sound bites.  These myths being 1) Faster is Better; 2) Make Every Moment Count; 3) Parents are Omnipotent; and 4) Children are Empty Vessels.   Here's my take on these four misguided societal practices. 

Faster is NOT Always Better...

In our never ending quest for the best, we hustle to and fro.  Many families have two working parents.  They rise early to shuffle kids to brick and mortar schools, racing off to work themselves.  Only to return in late afternoon looking for a fast meal so they can zoom off to soccer practice, music lessons, math/science clubs, art appreciation or whatever type of enrichment they're signed up for.   "The problem is that these practices have spiraled out of hand as the differences between children and adults become more and more obliterated.  As we schedule tiny children for enrichment classes and coed social events, we rush them beyond childhood and children's preoccupations.  We make them more and more in our hectic, hurried, frenetic, and feverish image."**    This leads me to believe faster is not always better.  

Some Moments Need to Just Be...

When we go, go, go, at roadrunner speed, we miss out on the little things.  It is not necessary to structure/schedule children's lives as much as possible for their success.  "Children are very active learners, constructing their own view of reality, which is not the same as ours.  They do not passively wait for us to fill their brains with knowledge about the world."**  Play is learning.  Imagination is built through play.   Some of the most memorable times in my life were not planned.

God is Omnipotent...

Omni = all
Potent = powerful

"Many parents have come to believe that they, and they alone, are responsible for the development of their children's intelligence, athletic skills, artistic accomplishments, emotional makeup, and sociability.  But truly, children are just passing through our lives.  They come into this world as unique persons who require from us both nurturing and enjoyment."**   God is the ultimate creator.  He is all powerful.  Children are a precious gift He has entrusted in our care, yet He is the decider of their fate.  No amount of scheduling or enrichment is going to change God's plan for each individual one of their futures.  Psalm 139...

Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest; 
You are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
You know all about it, Lord.
You have encircled me;
You have placed Your hand on me.
This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me.
It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.

For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mothers's womb.
I will praise You,
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know this very well.

Children are Born Persons...

Children are not empty vessels that we can or should be pouring facts into expecting some contrived outcome.  They already are a person.  They are born human.  "People are too apt to use children as counters in a game, to be moved hither and thither according to the whim of the moment.  Our crying need to-day is less for a better method of education than for an adequate conception of children, - children, merely as human beings, whether brilliant or dull, precocious or backward.  Exceptional qualities take care of themselves and so does the 'wanting' intelligence, and both of these share with the rest in all that is claimed for them in the previous chapters.  Our business is to find out how great a mystery a person is qua person.  All action comes out of the ideas we hold and if we ponder fully upon personality we shall come to perceive that we cannot commit a greater offence than to maim or crush, or subvert any part of a person."  Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6, A Philosophy of Education, pg 80

I know parents love their children and are trying to do what's best.  And in a world moving so fast, some days it's hard to know up from down.  The pressures to compete in this global economy are tremendous.  But it's important to remember God is in control.  Let go and let God.  Each precious day with your child is a blessing.  Einstein Never Used Flash Cards gives food for thought.  Consider the subtitle, "How our children REALLY learn - and why they need to play more and memorize less".  

**quotes taken from Einstein Never Used Flash Cards

No comments:

Post a Comment