Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Fallacy of Early Education

In our increasingly competitive society where more are expected from the younger generation born in the age of technology and information, any parent would want to see his or her child succeed and make it in the world. It is therefore not surprising that the pre-school business in the country has experienced a boom, as more and more parents send their kids to school at an earlier age in order for them to have a head start. Implementation of the K-12 Basic Education Program, which makes the previously optional kindergarten year now mandatory, is proof that early education is generally recognized as a way for the students to be better equipped and be at par with international standards (Philippines creates opportunities in overhaul of K-12 education system, 2013).

However, an article on the NewScientist magazine titled Too Much, Too Young presented numerous studies showing that formal schooling for kids as early as ages 4 to 5 has more disadvantages than benefits. Citing anthropological, psychological, neuroscientific, and educational evidences, the article made a strong point about play being a significant factor in developing the child’s creativity, well-being, and general sense of learning. One of the examples mentioned was from the book The Playful Brain: Venturing to the limits of neuroscience wherein it was said that “playful activity leads to the growth of more connections between neurons, particularly in the frontal lobe—the part of the brain responsible for uniquely human higher mental functions (Whitebread & Bingham, 2013).” Kids exposed to play-based education, in contrast to those who had undergone early formal instructional schooling, manifested better progress in terms of language learning and creativity since they are given free rein to assign meaning to a particular thing, say, a cardboard box is seen as a potential space ship. Aside from that, this freedom to learn things their way through supervised activities gives them a stronger sense of being in control of their physical and mental development. The absence of rigid formal education can also eradicate the feeling of pressure and is more likely to boost their self-esteem. The article asserts that formal education must start later at the age of seven.

The belief that teaching kids formally at a younger age will make them brighter and more advanced is found to have no sound basis. Another study cited in the article wherein children starting formal literacy program at age 5 was compared with those who started at 7 showed no difference in reading ability once they reach age 11. In the United Kingdom, it is feared that the reason why children were sent to schools at a young age is because of the demand for women/mothers to go back to work, and not necessarily for the effects it will have in shaping the students.

Findings of the researches must be taken seriously to reconsider the early education system and clarify misconceptions. It is not going to school at age 4 or 5 they are warning us about, but the subjecting of these young kids to a formal schooling—complete with a curriculum!—which may breed their negative attitude towards education in general. There is always the option of play-based pre-school program that may help them develop their social ability and build up their self-confidence in dealing with other children. Let kids be kids! Besides, the saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” must have some truth in it.

Works Cited

Philippines creates opportunities in overhaul of K-12 education system. (2013, August 9). Retrieved December 9, 2013, from ICEF Monitor: http://monitor.icef.com/2013/08/philippines-creates-opportunities-in-overhaul-of-k-12-education-system/
Whitebread, D., & Bingham, S. (2013, November 18). Too much, too young: Should schooling start at age 7? New Scientist.

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