"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, April 21, 2014

Will Harry Be Held Back in Kindergarten?

Back in December I reported on Harry, a little boy I have come to know who goes to kindergarten in the leafy suburbs of Germantown, TN.  I talked with Harry's dad yesterday and got an update on how school is going, with only 4 weeks left in the year.

Harry's dexterity has improved since December, so that now he is not being downgraded for not clicking in the answers on the computerized bubble sheets fast enough. With Tennessee planning for computerized Common Core testing, Harry has cleared this most important hurdle.

And Harry's grade cards are acceptable in all areas, from conduct to counting.  Still, Harry's dad tells me yesterday that the teacher has spoken about the possibility of retaining Harry due to a "lack of maturity."  In kindergarten.

Seems Harry doesn't take his "work" seriously enough.  Is he, perhaps, too full of joy, precociousness, and too interested in so many things?  I wonder if Harry's pleasure in living may be his kindergarten undoing?  Harry's father has been waiting a week to hear back from his teacher about a conference with the school principal included this time.  Harry's parents are confused and not just a little bit upset.

I told Harry's dad that research shows that children have two greatest fears: losing a parent and failing in school.  Harry doesn't need this, he says.

And now, Harry's dad says, he comes home and I ask him what he did in school today, and he says, we worked all day.  They are doing things in kindergarten that Harry's dad did in second and third grade, and often now recess in set aside in order to get more work done.  Nap time disappeared last fall, and now recess seems to be on its way out.

Across the fence in the back of Harry's house, there are other children who are Harry's pals.  Their parents are members of Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE).  TREE is trying to restore sanity to schools, and they believe that play is important and that testing most often gets in the way of learning.  Maybe it is time, I suggest, that you parents get together to talk about these problems and develop an action plan.  He agrees.

But for now it's time to get Harry ready for bed.  Tomorrow, he says, is another work day in the child's garden.

1 comment: