June 13, 2011

Don't send 4-year-olds to school. Send them to work.

Says Cornell Anthropologist Meredith F. Small:
Look outside Western culture and watch children, even very small children, as they gather firewood, weed gardens, haul water, tend livestock, care for younger children and run errands. And no one complains because they are mostly outside and usually with other children....

When we were an agriculturally based nation, American children used to work just as hard and contribute in the same way. But now, Western children are trained intellectually, in school, where they are taught to think about things as the entree to adulthood...

Everyone sits quietly at their desks, thinking and thinking, just when they’d rather be out tending cows or weeding the garden.
And then we think and think about why there's so much obesity.

Small talks about how young children, working, contribute economically, and notes that we've lost that economic value to children, because we're not farmers. Ah, but confining very young children to classrooms is an economic concept in America. It's childcare, paid for by taxpayers who wouldn't accept paying for the childcare of parents who want (or need) to go to work. The children, unschooled, would be an economic burden on parents who would either purchase private childcare or forgo income from the second of 2 parents working.

If what's really going on is taxpayer-funded childcare, then not only are taxpayers tricked into accepting paying for something they would reject if they knew what it was, but also children are being run through hours and hours of confinement performing exercises that are not honestly premised on benefiting them.

ADDED: There's also that new study that says sitting is as bad as smoking. Since we wouldn't force kids to smoke, why are we forcing them to sit? We're even giving a lot of the kids drugs to overcome their disinclination to sit. It's like forcing kids to smoke and giving them drugs to help them smoke.

82 comments:

Fred4Pres said...

I recall reading in National Geographic that the Amish do not put a lot of chores on four year olds. They are generally allowed to play and have fun until they are a bit older, around the time they start school. Then they are expected to do chores. And like any kid who has grown up on a farm, there is a lot of work to be done. But it is good for them.

Scott M said...

Supposedly has a lot to do with our increased vulnerability to developing allergies as well.

Fred4Pres said...

This article has a point, kids need to be more active. A good way to do that is to have them do some work yard around the house.

Superdad said...

Its not really even tax payer child-care; its just warehousing.

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/sebelius-early-learning-initiatives-need

Freeman Hunt said...

If what's really going on is taxpayer-funded childcare, then not only are taxpayers tricked into accepting paying for something they would reject if they knew what it was, but also children are being run through hours and hours of confinement performing exercises that are not honestly premised on benefiting them.

If?

The when is now.

gemmintheruff said...

When my daughter was diagnosed with autism, we discussed how to handle her sensory processing issues. We explained that we wanted to move to a family farm and raise our children in that environment. The therapists were delighted and excited, since those sorts of activities would benefit her best.

There has been an increase of sensory processing issues, or people not feeling right in their skin, since we left our agricultural lifestyles behind. How much healthier would we be if we all taught our children the cycle of life, the value of work, and our connection to the earth?

gemmintheruff said...

When my daughter was diagnosed with autism, we discussed how to handle her sensory processing issues. We explained that we wanted to move to a family farm and raise our children in that environment. The therapists were delighted and excited, since those sorts of activities would benefit her best.

There has been an increase of sensory processing issues, or people not feeling right in their skin, since we left our agricultural lifestyles behind. How much healthier would we be if we all taught our children the cycle of life, the value of work, and our connection to the earth?

Fred4Pres said...

I am all for vouchers. I will send my kids to a school that has them gardening half the day and in the class room the other half.

Heck, I will even go with organic farming? They can shovel some organic cow and chicken shit and see why getting a good education is a good idea!

I remember working in a plastics extrusion factory when I was in college. It was the night shift. They hired college kids to fill in for the guys taking vacation. It was an interesting job, we were making caps and plastic products for Avon (among others). At lunch I would see some of the guys who were eating their sandwiches with nubs for hands. A lot of guys got their hands caught either in the hot plates where the plastic is molded or in the augers below that grind the spent part of the plastic and then transport it back to the hoppers.

It gave me an incentive to stay in school.

Chip S. said...

Any good contrarian should be familiar with the work of economic historian Clark Nardinelli on child labor during the Industrial Revolution. His conclusion:

The important decision with respect to child labor, moreover, may not be between working and not working but between working at home and working away from home . . . . Under the conditions of the early industrial revolution, child labor may well have made children (and the family) better off.

We idealize child labor in agrarian societies, but that's not always justified. The reality was often harsh.

This is not to say that kids shouldn't do light chores--in fact, they generally seem to enjoy helping out when they're young.

mccullough said...

When are Ivy League anthropologists going to stop going to school and start working?

Chase said...

As obvious as it should be without saying it,

(heavy sigh)

. . . it sadly needs to be said here; something has to anchor this conversation in reason and logic:

Correlation does not imply causation

The entire discussion Ann links to is an illustration of poorly (public) educated "thinkers" giving poorly reasoned arguments.

CJinPA said...

We do school breakfasts and school lunches, and coming soon (seriously) school dinners.

Throw in preschool and full day kindergaten and after-school programs. Just break out the cots and it will complete.

carrie said...

Plus the state funded child care providers are being overpaid by being paid teachers' wages. I really don't think that 4 year old kindergarten teachers need 4 year college degrees, but once you put the kids into the school system that is what happens.

Rich B said...

The school regime has been the same for a long time, even when most mothers were at home and didn't need childcare.

I hated sitting still in class (known as ants in the pants, not ADD) and I still think it's wrong to make kids sit still for long periods.

Something should change.

AJ Lynch said...

My mother worked a full-time job and had four kids. She did not drive, took the bus to work, to the grocery store, etc. paid the bills, did the laundry, did the taxes, cooked all the meals.

She was busier than any of today's mother who never STFU about how busy they are. These whining mothers are the reason so many states offer all-day kindergarten and there is a push on, led by the PEW Foundation, for all day Pre-K.

Edmund said...

Montessori schools have an emphasis on doing chores around the classroom and in gardens.

WV: gootore - what you did with PlayDoh

Michael K said...

First, allergies are related to cleanliness. It is even called "the cleanliness syndrome." Polio was first seen in Sweden in isolated villages that saw few strangers.

Second, play is severely curtailed for kids by the obsession with safety, largely lawyer induced. When I was 4, we ran most of the time. Of course, no TV but I sat by the radio for the afternoon kids shows like Sky King and The Shadow.

Four year olds have no business in school although I do confess that one of my kids started at 4 because she was reading. The other four started at five.

Peter Hoh said...

I'll have to start a day care at which children will spend part of each day gathering firewood, hauling water, and, I dunno, maybe folding shirts at the Gap.

John said...

Fred said:

Heck, I will even go with organic farming? They can shovel some organic cow and chicken shit and see why getting a good education is a good idea!

When my son was in high school he had a job in a local marina basically driving a golf cart to shuttle people from the parking to their cars. It was a pretty nifty job for a HS kid and paid well.

However, one of his cow-orkers was pretty much a career cart driver. Not really qualified for anything more useful or remunerative.

My son got a good appreciation of the value of an education that summer.

He is now an MD.

He would have done well anyway, he was always highly motivated. But this sure reinforced it.

I am all for having kids have jobs during school. Gives them a chance to learn what the world is like.

John Henry

raf said...

It's not just 4-year olds. Much of K-12 amounts to little more than day care for many "students". Compulsary attendance is useful to the parents because it makes their life so much easier, and useful to school administrators because butts in seats is how they get paid. One thing it is not useful for is education -- or even training.

Henry said...

Our four-year-old's job is being really funny.

MadisonMan said...

There's a 4-yo next door to us who is the cutest thing ever. What a personality. And very willing to help, always.

My 15-yo, not so much.

Put them to work before they can talk back.

Freeman Hunt said...

All day kindergarten is purely free daycare. And when it's justified by saying that it helps stimulate underprivileged kids, that's just another way of saying, "We're trying to keep them away from their loser parents as much as we can."

Put some responsibility back on those parents and maybe they'll wise up.

Fred4Pres said...

John: I caddied, pulled weeds, shoveled snow, delievered news papers, worked in the plastics factory (I was over 18 for that one), worked in a supermarket pushing carts, worked in restaurants, etc.

It made me a better person. I want my kids to work.

DADvocate said...

Lots of Amish and farmers where I live. I called a guy a couple of weeks ago to put a new roof on my house. Turned out he was Amish. (Seems some Amish have cell phones or their non-Amish assistants do.)

He brought along one of his kids, about 5-6 years old. The kid ran up the ladder and jumped on the roof like is was nothing. The Amish do quite well and definitely know practical math.

Farmers kids are penalized if they miss school. Economic value be damned. School could probably be done in half the time, but who would care for the children the rest of the day.

This is also a problem partially caused by divorce, single parent homes and two worker homes. Kids could actually do something of economic value if they weren't stuck in school all day and had a parent at home.

ricpic said...

I'm all in favor of putting 4 year olds to work but I'd be willing to bet the professor would insist on a minimum wage law for tykes, which would price them right out of the market.

Scott M said...

Put some responsibility back on those parents and maybe they'll wise up.

Racist. We all know personal responsibility is just another way the man is tryin' to keep a brotha down.

Fred4Pres said...

I liked caddying. Sunshine. Fresh air. Lots of walking. I enjoyed watching good players play gold. And if you are good, which I was, I made about $100 to $150 (sometimes $200+) a day tax free doing it. That was a triple loop day, so it is getting a loop first thing (say around 6:00 a.m. in the summer, coming in and getting a late morning round, and then a late afternoon round). Good money for a high school kid. You also see the best and worst of humanity on the golf course. The exposure to professionals is a good thing too.

Ben Calvin said...

I'm starting up my children's rug-making camp this summer. Keep those little fingers busy!

Scott M said...

That was a triple loop day

Ouch. I could never go out more than twice a day. Simply too boring. I enjoyed the sports at the shack rather than actually doing the rounds.

Michael K said...

Dan from Madison, who has a small farm and raises cows, would like to know how you "tend" them.

Peter said...

Well, we've got television to narcotize 'em.

And Ritalin, if TV is not enough.

I don't see the point of having 4-year-olds do "useful" work, for, the reality is that there's little they can do as "work" that will have value either for the 4yo's or for adults.

But there's plenty to be said for more physical activity.

Not that you're likely to find it at the daycare. TV is cheaper, and, physical activity can lead to bruises and scrapes.

And bruises and scrapes could lead to accusations of child abuse which, even if disproven, can destroy the childcare providers' lives.

george said...

Marx had the idea that the family had to be broken and the best way to do it would be to take the kids away from their parents.

We complain about how immature we are as a people and how long it takes kids to grow up these days but they are forced into schools at an early age where they have only the company of other children and a few adults. And those few adults tend to be of low moral and intellectual quality as the recent WI kerfluffle where the kids were used as props has shown.

Work is a burden to these kids because it has never been required of them. So when it comes their time to participate in the workforce they are completely helpless. Obama is a perfect example of this disconnect between what people are taught in schools and what reality demands. Keynesianism looks like the obvious fraud it is once one has been forced to meet a payroll or balance a budget.

Without wisdom, intelligence and life experience you end up with an electorate willing to elect someone who understands nothing and has zero accomplishment like Obama. One only has to look at who the academics voted for to know the truth of this statement.

D. R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
d-day said...

My kiddo turns 4 next month and I have her do chores as much as possible. She puts the silverware away from the dishwasher, sorts her laundry into colors, picks up toys, takes paper goods to the bathroom, and helps me with cooking. She LOVES it - she'll go running to get her stepstool so she get it on whatever I'm doing in the kitchen. She plays with pieces of plastic all day at daycare, I think it's a relief to her to have something to do at home.

Determining what to get her for her upcoming birthday reveals how stupid the thing is. I'm still going to get her massive piles of pink plastic, but she's already got so many toys we'll have to purge to make room.

I could do what she does in and hour in a few minutes. But she likes to be involved, and she likes to do what the parents are doing, and she likes to actually accomplish things. I don't want her education to drain that out of her. I don't want her to grow up lazy like her parents.

Pogo said...

Yes, modern preschool is just daycare provided by a high-turnover workforce, disallowed from doing even the most remedial behavioral corrections, such as -I kid you not- saying "No.".

And yes, the modern school has become a prison for boys who cannot become passive sitters, and are then medicated so they can better absorb the important multicultural and sexually diverse lessons.

But that wonderful agrarian past, when most infants died and the average woman didn't make it past 50, is also a utopian dream, often pointed out by the intellectuals seeking a class of serfs.

The best answer is for the Feds to shut down the Dept of Education and every one of its goddamn rules, and let each state run its own schools.

MayBee said...

I'll get around to some of his other points, but why does he declare this a "Western" value?

Has he ever been to Japan?

It seems to me that education rather than chores for children is a choice made by the economically able, but certainly not confined to the West.

ken in sc said...

While I was overseas and divorced, my first wife altered a copy of my sons birth certificate in order to get him into school a year earlier than he should have been. When I returned and visited the school, they asked me for a copy of his birth certificate. I provided it and he was sent home half way through the school year. My ex was furious because now she would have to pay day care for him, even though I was paying more than enough child support to cover it.

As a retired teacher, I can say that day care is what many if not most parents want from public education. Some of them don't care if their children learn anything.

rhhardin said...

We were set to work selling magazine subscriptions once a year.

rhhardin said...

Correlation does not imply causation

Nine times out of ten.

bagoh20 said...

There sure are a wide variety of methods and reasons for taking money from one and giving it to another.

If you were cynical, you might think it was all dishonest theft, but the quality of the people we put in charge of such decisions makes that unlikely. It's more likely that it's often just mistakes made by dumb people. Unless of course you know of a really smart, well-educated politician. Then, clearly in those cases, when they do it, it's not stupid. It's something else.

Shanna said...

I hated sitting still in class (known as ants in the pants, not ADD) and I still think it's wrong to make kids sit still for long periods.

I think they need more recess. Most of what they really learn at that age are social lessons, and recess is part of that. I do think kids should have chores at home, as soon as they are old enough (what age that is I could not say). Small things, like feeding the dog or picking up toys.

Four year olds have no business in school although I do confess that one of my kids started at 4 because she was reading. The other four started at five.

It depends on the child, I loved 4k but my brother dropped out because he hated it. And I think school age cutoffs are too rigid…a kid who might be almost 6 before starting kindergarten might actually want to be in school earlier.

edutcher said...

Chip S' point is on the money. Kids a century ago often died young. I don't recall people objecting to things like the McCormick reaper and the combine, that made work easier for everybody.

Nothing wrong worth giving them chores to build a sense of responsibility, but the kind of work this anthropologist talks about is something else, borne, I think, out of the usual Left-wing People's Paradise twaddle.

David R. Graham said...

Post-secondary/post-graduate education, likewise, is tax-payer supported child care, at least most of it is. Few indeed need classroom education past, say 8th, grade so long as that includes math plus some algebra. Beyond that, the best teacher is the university of life.

Beyond 8th grade, technical and professional education are required for a very small number of the population, and these will self-identify early on. Calendar-based subject advancement impedes or forces the development of tech and pro students. Subject development for these students should proceed by their and their teacher's agreement, not related to the calendar. No teacher worthy of the name wants an extraordinary student -- which most true tech and pro students are -- governed by time.

The current system comprises bolt-ons to a Greco-Roman kernel, now crushed beyond recognition by the weight of the bolt-ons. There is no way to fix it.

Its economics make it adult-care for students and teachers. Reverse the economics -- have teachers/schools pay students to attend, thus putting the teachers/schools in charge of the process, which they are not now -- and the system could be re-thought and re-formed. That will not happen. So the country is in line to be run over for lack of educating her citizens.

Clever and accomplished/wise are not the same thing. What we have makes the former, not the latter.

Feed the kid's interests and let them play and do chores not exceeding their physical/mental structure. A child can do more with two sticks than they can with a plastic toy.

AJ Lynch said...

Get your Fudgie Wudgie! Give your tongue a sleigh ride! [should be familiar to Jersey vacationers.] It's what the high school kids yelled when hawking their fudgecicles on the hot sandy beaches.

bagoh20 said...

The only step left is for the State to actually make the children themselves. I believe that visionaries like Clinton and Weiner were simply testing the waters of the next great "New Deal". A Democratic version of the mythical jus primae noctis. Eventually all children will be Democrats...by birth.

d-day said...

What the hell does "tending cows" even mean?

bagoh20 said...

Before I got to high school, I knew how to pick tobacco, tend a garden, fix most of the normal problems with cars, a lot of carpentry, roofing, plumbing, kill and prepare my own food, etc. It was expected that I earn my own money and help the family with home remodeling, repairs, etc. In fact, I was probably was more useful as kid then than I am as an adult now, but my parents insisted on college so my downfall is not my fault.

Scott M said...

What the hell does "tending cows" even mean?

I helped sponsor the start of a sorority back in college. The group was mainly made of girls with "great personality". Does that count?

d-day said...

It should only count if they were hooved.

Synova said...

Oh gawd, I've become quaint.

Not that I'm opposed to the notion of small children doing chores, and I think that there is an important difference between doing something that contributes to the family unit financially, as farm chores do, but really, taking care of the cow is not glamorous, and weeding is only picturesque when you're behind the camera and someone else is weeding.

Col Mustard said...

What do they teach in the early grades, now? Are spelling and arithmetic still 'in'? Probably a version of history I wouldn't recognize. Are eco and ethno distinct subjects or part of every other subject?

I went by my old grade school about a year ago. Where there were once swings and slides and other contraptions, I saw brightly colored plastic things with soft contours; all low to the ground. Not a single thing that might inspire a kid to dare another kid to do something on. Kind of a flaccid environment.

Scott M said...

and weeding is only picturesque when you're behind the camera and someone else is weeding

I think weeding comes under the heading of "toil". Most toil only looks good from behind the camera. In fact, I can't think of any toil that isn't...unless it's a toilet, and then only if its, shall we say, uncontained...

Scott M said...

What do they teach in the early grades, now? Are spelling and arithmetic still 'in'?

For my first grader, they are doing a lot of sight words, but not emphasizing spelling very much. I'm told that starts in 2nd. They learned clocks, coins/dollars, and Missouri-related geography.

I was very pleasantly surprised at how much math they were doing. A lot of addition/subtraction (up to 3 digits) and at least talked about multiplication because my daughter was asking about it. I was even more pleasantly surprised at how avidly she took to math. I plan on planting her butt in a strike fighter if the USA can still afford jet aircraft in fifteen years or so. If not, I assume we'll still have A-10's...probably the same ones we have now.

Synova said...

All the really great stuff about growing up "agricultural" would make the folks who think it's just so... pastoral... squirm.

The blood and guts and sh*t and pest control and decay and dangerous machinery and sun burns and breathing dust and dirt and dried up dusty sh*t aspirated right into your lungs.

Farming is dangerous. I've one cousin who died when the tractor flipped over on him when he was 14, another who lost his thumb to the silage machine, a neighbor gored by his bull, his son dead in a silo, another neighbor caught the grain auger and lived but had cuts all over his body after it chewed all of his clothes off, a kid one year ahead of me in school died when a hay bale fell on him.

Almost Ali said...

...cousin died when the tractor flipped... lost his thumb to the silage machine... gored by his bull... dead in a silo... caught [in] the grain auger...chewed his clothes off... died when a hay bale fell on him.

This should be on the wall of every 4-H Club.

Eric said...

The best answer is for the Feds to shut down the Dept of Education and every one of its goddamn rules, and let each state run its own schools.

This. A federal bureaucracy adds nothing to education. The states have always been capable of managing this task, and managing it more effectively. The burden is enormous, too, since every new form generated in Washington requires a new layer of bureaucracy in every state.

Of course the politics are such that the department will never, ever go away. Even Reagan couldn't get rid of it when it was brand new and had a smaller constituency.

Bureaucracies are often created to show how much we care, and nobody really bothers with whether or not they have a positive benefit. This is one of them.

raf said...

Tending to the livestock, to me, always meant feeding, cleaning up after, and grooming (sometimes). Neighbors who had dairy cattle included milking.

Farming can be dangerous, sure, but that adds interest, if you are cut out for it. Digging postholes in clay soil in August was a significate factor in determining my non-agricultural future.

Roger Sweeny said...

As a teacher at a fairly well-regarded suburban high school, I would say that we are largely, though not entirely, day care.

We do a lot of what looks like education: lecturing, taking notes, filling out worksheets, making projects, etc. But after the project is turned in or the test taken, most of what went into it is forgotten.

I think the technical term is "academic bulimia."

Oligonicella said...

If he thinks children should tend cows, he's a damned moron. Cattle kill farmers and ranchers each and every year. Usually by simply leaning against them and a building/fence and crushing their rib cage.

As far as the word "tending", that's how it's phrased around here.

Web's Unab.:
tend2, v.t.
1. to attend to by work or services, care, etc.: to tend a fire.

Alex said...

If he thinks children should tend cows, he's a damned moron. Cattle kill farmers and ranchers each and every year. Usually by simply leaning against them and a building/fence and crushing their rib cage.

Every American should know how to milk a cow.

Scott M said...

Every American should know how to...

...change their own oil.

...send email with attachments.

...turn lead into gold.

...replace a broken window.

...repair a toilet.

etc

mrs whatsit said...

My kids grew up on our family dairy farm and started participating in age-appropriate farm chores around the time they started kindergarten. Synova's absolutely right that farm work is not even remotely romantic, and that many farm tasks are far too dangerous for kids. However, it's not hard to find chores that are safe and appropriate for supervised children -- for instance, feeding calves, or sweeping yesterday's uneaten feed out of the cows' mangers. Older kids and teens can safely undertake more challenging work if the tasks are carefully chosen. My kids spent a few minutes a day on easy chores when they were little and scaled up to an hour or two a day of harder work by high school, maybe more in summer or on weekends. Other than healthily aching muscles, they never suffered anything more serious than the odd scrape or bruise -- in fact, they experienced far more serious injuries playing school sports than anything that happened in the barn.

Of course, it's never completely safe to work near large animals or around farm equipment. But, with care, the work can be made REASONABLY safe. It's possible to damage kids by protecting them too much, accidentally teaching them that they're fragile and weak and not capable of taking on anything difficult or risky -- not a helpful self-concept in the adult world.

My kids are grown up now and (perhaps not coincidentally!) they all chose non-farm careers. They may not lug hay bales or scrape manure any more, but one by one, they've discovered that the skills they learned on the farm give them a big leg-up over many of their urban and suburban peers. The approach to work that my kids think is normal -- that is, you show up on time, you do what you're asked to do, you work as hard as necessary to do the job as well as you can -- turns out to be unusual enough to dazzle the modern employer. My kids have all heard from their bosses that they work harder, get more done, and have better attitudes than many of their twenty-something colleagues.

I don't really understand why there's any issue about making kids do chores. You don't have to have a farm to find daily work for kids to do. Whatever happened to taking out the trash, setting the table, mowing the lawn, keeping an eye on your younger brother? Do parents no longer make their kids do these things?

Synova said...

"Every American should know how to milk a cow."

Robot milking.

Synova said...

Mrs. Whatsit, I think that there is an important difference between economic contribution and simple chores. In any family-based industry the chore itself needs to get done in a different sort of way than, oh, the dishes need to get done. Doing the dishes, or other sorts of normal chores, can be put off or done to different standards... maybe you don't care so much about dishes or if beds are left unmade... but the old grain has to be swept away, the manure has to be removed, the cows need to be fed and milked, the hay has to come in when it has to come in, seed needs to be planted when it needs to be planted... and each little chore is a contribution to the family economy, not simply a statement about how particular one is about cleaning the bathroom.

Sure, anyone can have kids do chores. But helping to pick rock or feeding the calves or milking, whatever is age appropriate... even watching the herd of cows and reporting which ones are going into heat (this was certainly one of the "kid" chores when I was growing up, we were expected to notice and report so that the AI guy could be called) are things that actually, really have to be done, for *real*. If a child was not available to do it, an adult would be doing it, because it isn't make-work it's real work, no matter how small.

There isn't any reason that even small children couldn't do real work in a suburban or urban setting, but the expectation is that it's outright wrong to expect them to. Chores, sure. Contribute financially? Frankly, it's not seen as a virtue, it's seen as wrong and shameful. Kids might work, but it's *their* money.

Alex said...

Every American should know how to design a robot that can milk a cow.

Synova said...

"Every American should know how to design a robot that can milk a cow."

Exactly!

Ankur said...

Growing up in India, I was sent to Montessori school at the age of two and a half (I kid you not). My mother and father were both working, but free daycare wasn't the reason I was sent to school - they had PLENTY of free daycare from grandma who lived in the same house. The reason was - it was affordable, good fun learning, lots of playing - I am still friends with some of my "classmates" from when I was three years old.

Following that, when I was four and a half, I was sent to a school run by jesuit priests. Again, that is fairly common in the middle class in India. It wasn't that expensive, and you didn't have to be wealthy in order to send your kids to private school. Anyway, it was supposed to be the best school in town, so everyone wanted to go to it.

For me, the best part about this school was - it was all boys. Which meant we could run around and be boisterous without worrying about figuring out complicated social dynamics too early. Also, after every 30 minute class, we had a 10 minute play break. And we had two hour long play breaks aside from that. That meant a total of 3 hours play time IN school - every day, until we got on the buses to go back home. 3 hours of running around, playing soccer or basketball or cricket was probably the reason I loved going to school. It helped that our school had huge soccer fields, cricket pitches, etc, basketball courts, tennis courts, etc. And yet, there were people from all economic levels there because the fees were so low.

I would love to provide my little daughter an educational environment like that, but I suspect I might have to move back to India for that. Private schools in California seem to be expensive enough that they act as an economic filter. And I wouldn't want my daughter to grow up snooty.

Peter Hoh said...

Ankur, I know people who know the person who (according to them) brought the Montessori method to India.

You didn't grow up around Hyderabad, did you?

Judy said...

School is definitely just free daycare for many parents. Not just working parents but also the parents with the fulltime care of children with disabilities. There are many children with so little brain function that they are basically unaware of their surroundings sent to school daily just to give the caregiver a break. Not to be uncaring but with no possibility of learning, or even the benefit of socialization, school districts should not be forced to waste money and resources just give the parents a break.

Fred4Pres said...

Cows are dangerous, but kids can take care of chickens. The danger there being not washing your hands after you deal with them. They can be filthy (although I keep mine pretty good by giving them spots for dust baths and keeping fresh straw for them).

Michael said...

This is very much like what happens in early childhood in Waldorf schools. It's not tending chickens (though there's a high correlation between being a Waldorf parent or teacher and keeping chickens, in my experience) but it's making bread or soup, it's planting and tending a garden, it's basically what life was like at home with a peasant mother a hundred years ago, a steady routine of work, play, stories, songs... and it makes pretty great kids, on the whole, who do well academically despite not being forcefed algebra in kindergarten (and tested on it).

Michael said...

"...cousin died when the tractor flipped... lost his thumb to the silage machine... gored by his bull... dead in a silo... caught [in] the grain auger...chewed his clothes off... died when a hay bale fell on him. "

Worked in an office for 40 years.

DividebyTube said...

I've read "Farmer Boy" recently -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farmer_Boy - one of the overlooked books of the 'Little House' series.

It goes in detail of the chores that the 9yo must complete.

There is a scene where is father pretty much tells him to "figure it out yourself" and walks away, letting his son make mistakes and learn on his own.

Chores and early responsibilities can only make better citizens.

Dave said...

A full school day is not for four year olds. Academic learning for four year olds should be heavily interspersed with play. Where by play, I mean just having fun exploring the world around them.

Michael said...

"I've read "Farmer Boy" recently -"

Guess what book they're reading in my 9-year-old's class at the Waldorf school. He LOVES it. He's entranced by the idea of a kid having that much freedom... and responsibility.

Diane Meyer said...

Some Americans have their kids outside working, the Pioneer Woman is a good example.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/blog/2011/06/summer-in-the-country/

Lynne said...

Back when I was working at a college library, I was given this title to check into the collection:

Youth and Dairy Cattle: A Safe Partnership

I kid you not.

And it was a video.

Charlie said...

The large and growing American mandarin class will oppose this. You can see some of their comments at the original article. The only implement in their child's hand will be an expressive one.

We picked as opposite a school as we could find--the famed Peninsula School (N-8) in Menlo Park, CA, which consciously modeled itself on the original American education--the little red schoolhouse. The curriculum consisted of equal measures of work and play with a minimum of academics squeezed in, all of it optional and up to the students.

This new-parent story will perhaps best illustrate. The father, and engineer, of a new first-grader said he could not believe his son's reports from the first three days of school that he had spent the entire day in the sandbox. He phoned and asked the teacher if he could attend. Sure.

He took the next morning off. Arriving at school, his son made a beeline for the sandbox, a big 12x12 monster with sand of the perfect moisture. His son's two buds were already at work, and the engineer marveled at the metropolis they were completing.

Soon a student came out and rang a bell to start class. All of the students but his son and two buds went in. He kept waiting for an assistant to come usher them in. None came. As he watched through the window the other students at their lesson, he felt his blood pressure rise. My son will fall behind. Isn't anyone going to tell him what to do?

Then he looked at the three boys, totally absorbed, collaborating, making vivid use of their imaginations and secure in setting their own priorities. What am I, crazy? Of course he'll learn to read here. But he'll learn so much more he'd never get any place else.

Aloysius said...

Chores are good but if African productivity is my goal I'll take plenty of school thank you.

Queezy Malanga said...

Forget farming. The big money is in grifting!

Those little four-year-old fingers are nimble and quick -- perfect for lifting watches and wallets. And who can resist the tears of a child, as they beg on the street? No one.

Not only will the child bring needed money into the home in these trying times, but he'll learn valuable life skills... skills vital for survival in our new, crony-based economy. Raise your own personal, future congressman!

Kev said...

When my son was in high school he had a job in a local marina basically driving a golf cart to shuttle people from the parking to their cars. It was a pretty nifty job for a HS kid and paid well.

However, one of his cow-orkers was pretty much a career cart driver. Not really qualified for anything more useful or remunerative.

My son got a good appreciation of the value of an education that summer.


No doubt. My first job was at a McDonald's, and, while it taught me responsibility with money and all that, it also taught me a much more valuable lesson by introducing me to career McDonald's managers.

To a man, they were older-looking than they should have been, greyer or balder than they should have been, and fatter than they should have been. One manager was in his late 30s, but, after two work-induced heart attacks, looked at least 20 years older.

I was never really a kid who would have gone down the wrong path, but being around these people made one thing clear to me: I didn't want to grow up and be them. That experience definitely taught me to keep my eyes on the prize in the years ahead.