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Seeing Children’s Lively Minds at Work

by Deb Curtis
March/April 2009
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/seeing-childrens-lively-minds-at-work/5018624/

We overestimate children academically and underestimate them intellectually.
— Lilian Katz

One of my worries about the growing focus on academics and school readiness in programs for young children is it keeps many teachers from seeing children's innate, lively minds at work. When teachers are overly concerned about teaching the alphabet and other isolated skills and facts, they may miss children's serious approaches to tasks and voracious quests to understand the world around them. As Lilian Katz's quote above suggests, children are more apt to be interested in intellectual pursuits than academic lessons. I think clarifying the difference between the two can help teachers see and appreciate children's thinking, and in turn offer meaningful experiences that engage their lively minds. Webster's dictionary defines academic as "very learned but inexperienced in practical matters," "conforming to the tradition or rules of a school," and "a body of established opinion widely accepted as authoritative in a particular field." And intellectual is defined as "given to study, reflection, and speculation," and "engaged activity requiring the creative use of the intellect." Obviously it is important for children to learn appropriate academic skills and tasks, but rather than overly focusing on these goals, I strongly claim and enjoy ...

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