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Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect

On the Lives and Education of Children

Edited By Paul L. Thomas, Paul R. Carr, Julie A. Gorlewski and Brad J. Porfilio

Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect presents a wide variety of concepts from scholars and practitioners who discuss pedagogies of kindness, an alternative to the «no excuses» ideology now dominating the way that children are raised and educated in the U.S. today. The fields of education, and especially early childhood education, include some histories and perspectives that treat those who are younger with kindness and respect. This book demonstrates an informed awareness of this history and the ways that old and new ideas can counter current conditions that are harmful to both those who are younger and those who are older, while avoiding the reconstitution of the romantic, innocent child who needs to be saved by more advanced adults. Two interpretations of the upbringing of children are investigated and challenged, one suggesting that the poor do not know how to raise their children and thus need help, while the other looks at those who are privileged and therefore know how to nurture their young. These opposing views have been discussed and problematized for more than thirty years. Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect investigates the issue of why this circumstance has continued and even worsened today.
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Chapter Seven: Prekindergarten Policy and Politics: Discursive (Inter)play on Readying the Ideal Learner

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Prekindergarten Policy AND Politics

Discursive (Inter)Play on Readying the Ideal Learner

ANGELA C. PASSERO, CARRIE L. GENTNER, AND VONZELL AGOSTO



Since the institutionalization of kindergarten in public schools during the early 20th century, educational emphasis has shifted from social and moral development to academic instruction (Russell, 2011). Kindergarten has become the new first grade (Tyre, 2006), replacing play with worksheets, math drills, and standardized tests (Hemphill, 2006). The current emphasis on accountability helps frame children’s performance as successful or failing and their identities as learners (Bradbury, 2013). Bradbury found that expectations embedded in England’s assessment of performance among preschoolers facilitated their identities as learners, which were then reified through teachers’ expectations of good/poor performance and perceptions of who constituted good/poor students. Her study revealed how assessment constructs norms of readiness among prekindergarteners.

The concept of readiness is central in defining early childhood education (ECE), learners, and learning. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) (2009), a broad definition of readiness considering all areas of children’s development is needed. We suggest various types of readiness also be broadly defined. Furthermore, discussions of school readiness should consider the (1) diversity of children’s experiences and inequity therein, (2) developmental variation, and (3) reasonable and appropriate expectations supportive of individual difference from schools (NAEYC, 2009). Shifting and conflicting conceptions of children, families, and pre/kindergarten beg the question of what prekindergarten/ers is/are...

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