Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Lost Generation?

For some reason we have not been seeing very many reports on the damage done to children by the school lockdowns. By now, most people understand that these lockdowns were largely unnecessary. And many people understand that they were inflicted on American children by teachers unions that were trying to extort more money for themselves.

By now, we understand, according to a Wall Street Journal report, that approximately 15% of eligible children, around half a million, did not enroll in kindergarten this year. 

The teachers unions say that the lost learning can easily be made up. And yet, some psychologists beg to differ.

Valerie Bauerlein reports:

Of all the students who suffered learning loss during the Covid-19 pandemic and remote schooling, one grade level has educators very concerned: the kindergartners.

Kindergarten is where 5- and 6-year-olds learn the building blocks of how to be students, skills such as taking turns and working together that they will need for the next 12 years of formal schooling. It coincides with a critical window for brain development, the time between 5 and 7 years old when neural connections are firing most rapidly for higher-cognitive functions like problem-solving and reasoning.

Kindergarten “can’t be replicated even by the very best teachers in the virtual environment,” said Whitney Oakley, chief academic officer for North Carolina’s Guilford County Schools. A missed, delayed or low-quality kindergarten experience “could impact this generation of kids for their lifetime.”

She continues:

The most reliable predictor of positive outcomes in adulthood, from educational attainment to mental health, isn’t academic ability but how well students cooperate with peers, help others, understand feelings and resolve conflicts, according to a 2015 study by Mark Greenberg, a professor of developmental psychology at Penn State University, that tracked 750 people from kindergarten to about 25 years of age.

“The skills that we would be teaching in kindergarten? Children have not gotten them this year,” he said. “In the best case, they’ve gotten a small percentage of them.”

Let’s change the emphasis slightly. If children lack academic ability and if they are not trained to enhance their cognitive skills, understanding feelings will not make up for the deficiency. On the other hand, Greenberg is certainly correct to see that cooperating with peers and resolving conflicts are fundamentally important. A child who is not socialized will have difficulty functioning in a school.

It is so important that we ought to ask how the anti-racism training and the transgender indoctrination that some children are receiving in some schools is enhancing these skills.

Obviously, remote learning does not work for 5 year olds:

As of April 5, 34% of kindergartners attended districts that were fully in-person and 9% attended districts that were fully remote, with the majority of kids attending hybrid school, according to the Return To Learn Tracker, developed by the American Enterprise Institute. It isn’t clear how many of the hybrid districts offer full-time in-person instruction to kindergartners and a mix to other grades.

In suburban Washington, D.C., freelance writer Jessica Goodwin’s son spent most of the school year in remote learning. He wasn’t developing close friendships with classmates since they spent much of remote instruction time on mute. She spent most days sitting beside him, supervising logins, printing out worksheets, taking pictures when they are complete and scanning them in.

“The most important part of kindergarten is how to make friends, how to solve your own problems and be independent,” said Ms. Goodwin, a former elementary school teacher. “It’s hard to be independent when you’re sitting in a room all day with your mom.”

Kindergarten begins a child’s socialization. It is his first entry into the world outside of the home. Apparently, as Goodwin remarks, you cannot produce an equivalent by having him stay home, sitting next to his mother.


David Foster said...

Of course, a high % of the people in America throughout our history have grown up just fine without any kindergarten. But they did have the opportunity to play with other kids.

We should beware of conflating interaction with institution.

Sam L. said...

Teachers' Unions have shot off their feet with a 155mm howitzer. They have shown, SHOWN, that children are NOT who or what the unions care about.

Harsh? They have EARNED that harshness.

IamDevo said...

Serious question: How did children become "socialized" (note the etymological root shared with "socialism," it is revealing) BEFORE "kindergarten" became a standard fixture of the pedagogical experience in the nineteenth century? Is it possible they developed the needed skills within the family and the larger village experience without the imposition from above of a rigid structured educational bureaucracy? Apparently it was so, inasmuch as civilizations across the globe and from time immemorial existed and, mirabile dictu, flourished. A history of "kindergarten" available on line reveals that it was (naturally) the brain child of a German "educator" (sorry for all the quotation marks, but they seem appropriate), premised on the ideas of that French rat bastard Rousseau. This so concerned the Prussian government that it outlawed the concept, fearing correctly that it a nefarious scheme to brainwash the young and impressionable. I think they had the right idea. The abolition of the entire American system of pedagogy and a return to a home and community-based system of instruction would be a step in the right direction. All our present societal woes can be traced back to the allegedly good intentions of social "reformers" with "progressive" ideas.

David Foster said...

"How did children become "socialized" (note the etymological root shared with "socialism," it is revealing) BEFORE "kindergarten" became a standard fixture of the pedagogical experience in the nineteenth century?"

That was' the point I was trying to get at above...actually, I don't think kindergarten was common in most parts of the US at any time before the 20th century. Kids did play with their friends, of course, usually with a lot less adult supervision than they get today...and, also, most kids then had *siblings*...sometimes, quite a few siblings. There are a lot fewer 3+ kids families, and even 2-kids families, than their used to be.