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Feedback on Observation
July 2, 2002

"Money will buy a pretty good dog, but it won't buy the wag of his tail." —Josh Billings


The ExchangeEveryDay for Monday, June 24 focused on "The Value of Observing and Recording." Alice Sterling Honig from Syracuse University offered this reaction to this item...

"I am concerned lest your readers assume that just observing little ones can be helpful. To observe wisely, one needs to understand development. One needs to know Piagetian sensorimotor learnings, Eriksonian struggles, Mahlerian stages, language development norms and progressions. Just 'observing' without the wisdom to see what is occurring developmentally and how you can encourage growth and development is not enough!

"I once had a grad student describe his observation as one baby 'aggressing' against another, because the first baby, eager to crawl toward an attractive toy, had crawled right over the body of another infant lying on the floor. Description that is not informed by knowledge of norms, prerequisites for behavioral milestones, etc. will not of itself lead to more effective, creative interactions to encourage further infant flourishing."

For tools for observing teachers, directors, and center perfomance, check out Taking Stock: Tools for Teacher, Director, and Center Evaluation at


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