The Child – The True Foundation: conference report

June 15, 2010

THE CHILD – THE TRUE FOUNDATION
‘The Freedom to be Myself’

OpenEYE held its second national conference in June 2010.

Each of the key speaking American professors – Kathy Hirsch-Pasek and Lilian Katz – made an eloquent case for playful learning before formal instruction, and Dr. Sebastian Suggate shared his research into early reading, showing that later readers who start at 7, by the age of 10, actually surpass those who start at 5.

The psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman spoke with a punch about the adverse effects of screen-based technology in the early years. He said, instead of screens that can induce ADHD, a child needs real experiences to create new neural circuitry in the brain that becomes intelligence and empathy.

By their questions it was clear that the roomful of teachers, parents and educators were, with us, committed protectors of the child’s right to a childhood of imaginative play uninvaded by politicians’ prescriptive curricula and harmful screens. A DVD of the conference is now available.

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EYFS philosophy invades America

June 3, 2010

The same spectres of mechanistic and materialistic thinking that we are challenging in the Open Eye campaign, are now looming in America.   The Alliance for Childhood has issued a statement of protest, signed by several hundred distinguished educators and academics, against the core standards for children just issued by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers,  which place heavy emphasis on language and mathematics.   A familiar theme from UK is their condemnation of the long hours that very young children will be made to spend on cognitive work and didactic instruction, and the inappropriate standardized testing that will crowd out other far more important areas of learning.

Like Open Eye, they call for the creation of a consortium of early childhood researchers, developmental psychologists, paediatricians, cognitive scientists, master teachers and school leaders to develop comprehensive guidelines for effective early care and teaching that recognise the right of every child to a healthy start in life and a developmentally appropriate education.