The public issue that I been interested in for probably the longest time is elementary education. Frankly I think that we are wasting future opportunities by not adequately educating our children how to read and write well in the early grades, here in North America.
My opinions hae been moulded via several influences:
- I compare the education in Europe to that in North America, including
- my own experiences in both systems.
- I observe how youth are educated today (I have three children).
I observe the arrival in university of those who are the product of
the educational system.
- I look at how we have to shape higher education to make up for the deficits of elementary education.
are in grade 4). And they do even less writing: They should be writing essays and lengthy pieces of fiction three to four years before they currently do.
I intend to post more about this topic as I encounter additional evidence and ideas. I will use the Elementary Education tag.
People say that we have too many things to teach our children, and that this is the root of the problem. I say rubbish! If we teach children to read and write well, we will maintain their natural yearning for knowledge. They will learn on their own, and will pick up what they are taught later
What we do now is teach them lots of little facts in the early years – most of which they forget. Reading and writing, however, are skills that are never forgotten.
I don't want to diss elementary education entirely: I have been very impressed by the teaching skills of some of the teachers who have taught my children. However, my oldest child (and other children in her class) has progressed in reading and writing much more slowly than I did at the same age. She has been at the 'I can read because I can guess or memorize what it says' stage for a year-and-a-half. I remember lots and lots more individualized drills, plenty of gentle correction, and then the rapidly increasing joy of being able to read simple books, all when I was five. I have very, very vivid and detailed memories of this, right down to some individual books and words I learned, and where I was when I learned them.
To some extent, my wife and I are taking matters into our own hands regarding reading and writing. We know other enlightened parents do too. I think, however, that the educational system needs to wake up and realize that getting kids going early and more effectively on reading and writing will set them up for life. When I was a kid in Europe, the teaching methods in school were enough; my parents didn't need to do much more than read to me.