Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Nancy Carlson-Paige on Childhood and Play Plus My Student Shares Some Memories

It’s in low-income, under-resourced communities like this one where children are most subjected to heavy doses of teacher-led drills and tests. Not like in wealthier suburbs where kids have the opportunity to go to early childhood programs that have play, the arts, and project-based learning. It’s poverty — the elephant in the room — that is the root cause of this disparity.
 ..... Nancy Carlson-Paige
I understood exactly what Nancy is talking about when I found myself teaching in one of the poorest communities in the city. The neihborhood was considered dangerous and some parents did not let their kids out to play, especially the girls. I knew I had to close the play gap.

I taught upper elementary grades and always believe in the value of play, ---didn't need no stink'n research--- or theory--  but from observing the impact of play on my kids and how positively it affected my kids and the classroom atmosphere. I used a lot of trips and took them to places they would never get to go with their families. There were lousy playgrounds - if at all - in Williamsburg so when I found a bunch of them state of the art playgrounds in Central Park, they became a regular haunt on our trips. They had rubberized equipment and sand all around. Oh the joy I saw on their faces.

Early childhood expert Nancy Carlson-Paige talked about the loss of play in her speech accepting the Deborah Meier Award. Valerie Strauss in her WAPO column publishes Nancy's speech in full. (Nancy also happens to be great actor Matt Damon's mom.)

How ‘twisted’ early childhood education has become —

Play is the primary engine of human growth; it’s universal – as much as walking and talking. Play is the way children build ideas and how they make sense of their experience and feel safe. Just look at all the math concepts at work in the intricate buildings of kindergartners. Or watch a 4-year-old put on a cape and pretend to be a superhero after witnessing some scary event.
Recently, a bunch of my former students from almost 40 years ago have connected on Facebook and were remembering some of the things I did with them -- and here one of them touches on some things she remembered, especially on the trips and how she interacted with strangers.
Mr. Scott you did take us to see a few movies Grease, Wiz with Michael Jackson a few more can't remember the name,you also took us to a Mets game several museums, botanical garden, zoo and yes many trips to central park and the sand parks those were the best. I was the shy little girl that always seemed to attract all babies and little ones and always spoke with the parents of the little ones which would seem to amaze you because I was so shy with my own peers but not with adults or younger children.

There  was this one mother who I was speaking with but she spoke very little English you were of course like always checking on us your children making sure all was okay when you realized that the women wasn't speaking English or Spanish which were the only two languages I spoke you asked me what language she was speaking and how was I able to understand her. I told you she was speaking Portuguese so whatever she couldn't say or understand in English she would say it in her language which was very similar to Spanish so I was able to understand her. I spoke to her Spanish and English and we had a  conversation about her baby for about 30 minutes.

Same thing happened with another mother on a different trip. She was Italian and spoke to me in Italian and I was also able to understand everything she said. I remember you saying to me your gonna work with children when you are older or have lots of your own. (Lol) I had three of my own but work many years in day cares and also as a nanny. So you were right. Children have always been my passion I feel they teach us as much if not more about life, treat them right as you did with us your children which was how you revered to us and the end result are individuals that pay it forward. Thank you.
Mary, former student from my 5th (1978) and 6th grade class (1979). I had all of her brothers in my class over the years and have run into Mary a few times over the years with her kids.

A whole gaggle of students from those classes (I looped for the 5th and 6th with most of them) have been in touch on FB and there is talk of a reunion.  They are in their mid to late 40s and some are grandparents. Mary posted the 1979 class photo and they are trying to contact as many of the kids as they can. (That's me on the right with hair - lots of it.)

1 comment:

  1. Great stories and picture, Norm. Thanks for posting.

    Play and the joy of childhood, facilitated by a teacher; so sad that it's from another era...


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