Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sesame Street Got It Wrong

"Helping kids learn the way letters look & sound helps prepare them for school."

I heard that quote this morning on a commercial for Sesame Street, while Elmo was holding the letter "B". Why did it ruffle my feathers so much?

It completely frustrates me that people want to "compartmentalize" school learning vs. everything else in life. Is learning your alphabet & letter sounds not an important life skill? Wouldn't knowing how letters look prepare you for life? It would have made much more sense to say "Helping kids learn the way letters look & sound helps prepare them for LIFE!"

There are so many things to be learned from just living, and doing, and being. Why must a 4 year old sit down daily and do workbook pages, or be told it's time to do Playdough, or that you must eat lunch in this little time frame, or that you can only nap for this particular hour of the day, or the hundred other things that a school setting controls?

Our un-school day follows the flow of life at that moment. Some days naps are 1 hour, some days they last 3 hours. Sometimes we wake up, feel like going to the zoo, and we DO IT! If we want to take a trip, we go for it. There's always something to be learned wherever you go, & we take full advantage of those opportunities.

It's sad that so many parents miss the boat, and assume that unless Johnny is in school, he's not learning. Bummer for Johnny! Learning isn't something that happens from 8-5 on Monday-Friday. What a misleading message we give our children. Learning is something we do every waking hour of every day. Just because it can't be measured with a worksheet, test, or assessment, that does not mean that an experience has not been educational.

Take for instance a visit to the grocery store with a 4 year old. In the hour we're together, we work on counting, reading scales & units of measurement, nutrition, following a list, colors, price comparison, manners, geography related to food, sources of food (bread from wheat, etc), prioritizing, time management, and a multitude of other "subjects."

But evaluating those things on an assessment would not provide a clear picture of just how much was gained.

I doubt schools will ever view skills relating to life the way that we do. You cannot single out "school" skills and "life" skills. Life should be your set of skills, and living should teach you your set of skills...

So get out, and live and do and experience life with your children!!!


Ahermitt said...

I am beginning to suspect that comment like this are meant to make kids think that if they are not going to school, they are not doing the right thing.

Jacque Dixon said...

I am still trying to un-do the "compartmentalization learning" I was taught in ps. Dh struggles with it too. I am happy that our children are growing up learning that life is the platform by which we learn.
I am happy we can teach them by living it and working projects that need done around our home.
I would not consider us unschoolers, tho we tend to go that way a lot.
Great post. Blessings, Jacque

Queen of Carrots said...

So true. School has somehow become an end in itself instead of one method to prepare for reality.

Anonymous said...

I think they say things like this because as a society we like to think we value education. So, we'll buy educational toys and books and games--anything labeled "educational"--so that we look like good parents in our own or other's estimation.

Not that "educational" equals learning.

jugglingpaynes said...

Question about that quote: If my kid has to recognize letters and how they sound BEFORE they go to school, isn't that homeschooling? And if I can successfully teach them these things, why stop there?
Excellent post! And thanks for your comment on my blog.