- Stateline.org, Pew Charitable Trusts, 16 November 2005, Preschool gets record boost in ’05
At least 180,000 more children have access to preschool this year after lawmakers in 26 states boosted pre-K funding by $600 million during 2005 legislative sessions, the largest single-year increase for preschools in five years, according to a report issued Nov. 16 by Pre-K Now, a national advocacy group that supports universal access to preschool.
The ‘religious’ cast to education (meaning education-as-a-religion, not the focus of one religion on education) continues its downward march toward birth* (and beyond?). The recognition that it is better for parents to actively live with their children and guide the development of their life skills from an early age, as contrasted perhaps with tying them to a tree so they can’t wander off, achieved formal recognition through the work of people such as Maria Montessori, Johann Pestalozzi, and Friedrich Froebel. Since then schooling of young children had turned into a long rite-of-passage akin to the long-slog schooling of older children, teens and young adults. Catechism classes never lasted this long.
As for education being a religion in an of itself, a quick internet search for "education-as-religion" (Results 1 – 10 of about 63) brought up a link to the book, The Case Against College, written in 1975. The author is credited with writing, ""The liberal arts are a religion, the established religion of the ruling class. The exalted language, the universalistic setting, the ultimate value, the inability to define, the appeal to personal witness … these are all familiar modes of religious discourse."
It’s not just me.
But, that was 30 years ago when college was the focus. Now the ‘age of first communion’ for more and more small children has dropped to three.
- Cato Institute, Casey J. Lartigue, Jr., 17 May 2002 Does More Schooling Equal Better Results?
Is compulsory education really necessary for D.C. preschool children? Raising that point can get you labeled "anti-education." But now is the time to ask such a question because D.C. city councilman Kevin Chavous wants the District to lower the compulsory school attendance age from 5 to 3.
The belief in preschool isn’t limited to ‘the educational priesthood’ and the econocrats in government, but it is also embraced by the laity in general, and homeschooling laity as well. Another online search for "homeschooling preschool" brought up the first page of, "Results 1 – 10 of about 1,200,000," and that leaves me cold. Granted, I think that ‘preschool-at-home’ is preferable to ‘preschool somewhere else’ but the weight of the concept bows my shoulders. Now the ‘school process’ will take another two to three years off the lower end of the halcyon days of childhood. Imagine, two years of preschool, thirteen years of K-12, four years undergrad, and perhaps two for masters. 2 + 13 + 4 + 2 = 21 Twenty-one years of ‘being schooled.’ I don’t even want to add on time for a PhD.
I don’t have a specific point, here, only an amorphous sense of unease that we’re losing more than we’re gaining. I look in the 1950s-era Childcraft and Book Trails volumes in my bookshelves and I wonder what the early childhood inspiration for future artists and writers will be, given that our dominant social religion, education, has taken long periods of reflective time away from children. I think about who will write the next classics for children along the lines of The Wind in the Willows, stories about Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, The Borrowers, Pippi Longstocking, the Edward Eager books, Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, and my favorite Beverly Cleary book, Ellen Tebbits. I look in the bookstores for books for my grandchildren, and sigh. The old books are great, and I’m happy that they’re mostly still in print, but, Potter aside (a series that takes place in a school), where are the new classics? Has the education-religion (in tandem with our instant electronic gratification) made gentle imaginative literary adventures as foreign-to-the-faithful as homeschooling?
* Article seen on email list after posting this entry:
- BBC News, 9 November 2005, Mixed response to toddler plans
Under the Childcare Bill, childminders would teach the curriculum to children "from birth" – with some worrying that it might be too prescriptive.
The National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations called the proposals "bizarre".
But the children’s charity I Can said there was clear evidence youngsters’ communication needs were not being met.
Parents’ associations spokeswoman Margaret Morrissey said: "We are now in danger of taking away children’s childhood when they leave the maternity ward.