On the Lives and Education of Children
Edited By Paul L. Thomas, Paul R. Carr, Julie A. Gorlewski and Brad J. Porfilio
Chapter Seven: Prekindergarten Policy and Politics: Discursive (Inter)play on Readying the Ideal Learner
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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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