Early Childhood Education is Damaging a Generation

The Jesuits famously knew the value of getting their ideological hooks into kids at an early age. So did the Nazis with their Hitler-Jugend. The two great Cassandras of totalitarianism, Orwell and Huxley, also recognised authoritarian regimes’ determination to “get ‘em young”. “We had Elementary Sex for the first forty minutes, but now it’s switched over to Elementary Class Consciousness”, Huxley’s school matron breezily says. The brutal children of 1984 terrorise their own parents: “by means of such organizations as the Spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages”.

So it should be no surprise, with the educational establishment thoroughly subverted by the Long March through the institutions, that states are demanding that parents turn over their children to them at an ever-younger age. Of course, like all modern totalitarianism, this systematic indoctrination is dressed up in the phoney language of “caring”, even as it damages an entire generation.

Children haven’t changed, but our expectations of their behavior have. In just one generation, children are going to school at younger and younger ages and are spending more time in school than ever before. They are increasingly required to learn academic content at an early age that may be well above their developmental capability.

Like generations of parents, we introduced our children to reading and books in the gentlest possible way: reading picture and story books as a pre-bedtime ritual every night. The doctrinaire inquisitors of modern education, on the other hand, force even the youngest children into cages of standardised conformity.

Now, children are expected to read in kindergarten and to become proficient readers soon after, despite research showing that pushing early literacy can do more harm than good.

In their report Reading in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose education professor Nancy Carlsson-Paige and her colleagues warn about the hazards of early reading instruction. They write,

When children have educational experiences that are not geared to their developmental level or in tune with their learning needs and cultures, it can cause them great harm, including feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and confusion.

Instead of recognizing that schooling is the problem, we blame the kids. Today, children who are not reading by a contrived endpoint are regularly labeled with a reading delay and prescribed various interventions to help them catch up to the pack. In school, all must be the same.

Education mavens wring their hands while diagnoses of “learning difficulties” have skyrocketed since the 1970s. Have children really changed so dramatically? Or has something gone horribly wrong somewhere else?

New findings by Harvard Medical School researchers confirm that it’s not the children who are failing, it’s the schools we place them in too early.

When a generation of kids was suddenly shoved off into childcare in the 80s and 90s, early research suggested that this massive, uncontrolled social experiment was having some not-so-desirable results. The problem was that it was difficult to quantify the issue in ways that would satisfy government bureaucrats. Nonetheless, researchers at the coalface couldn’t help but notice that this “childcare generation” was emerging from their formative years showing very different behaviour patterns.

Twenty years later, we have the Millennial generation.

Still, the state is doubling-down on its intrusion into childrens’ development.

As universal government preschool programs gain traction, delaying schooling or opting out entirely can be increasingly difficult for parents. Iowa, for example, recently lowered its compulsory schooling age to four-year-olds enrolled in a government preschool program.

As New York City expands its universal pre-K program to all of the city’s three-year-olds, will compulsory schooling laws for preschoolers follow? On Monday, the New York City Department of Education issued a white paper detailing a “birth-to-five system of early care and education,” granting more power to government officials to direct early childhood learning and development.

It’s becoming harder and harder to escape the suspicion that there’s an endgame, here. And it’s not good news for children or their parents.

As schooling becomes more rigid and consumes more of childhood, it is causing increasing harm to children…Parents should push back against this alarming trend by holding onto their kids longer or opting out of forced schooling altogether.

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Home-schooling has long had the unenviable reputation of being the resort of fundamentalist Christians. More and more, though, it’s looking like a much better option for parents and children.

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