Doubts over progress in early learning

Anthea Fraser Gupta A.F.Gupta at
Wed Aug 29 10:17:07 UTC 2007

I posted this one because it is very much a political issue. There is a
tremendous push in the UK for earlier and earlier formal learning.
School already starts in the academic year in which the 5th birthday
falls (so most children start at 4), and there is now a curriculum for
pre-school. There is little recognition of developmental range, and the
'expected' level has to be reached by a higher and higher proportion of
children every year. Children who cannot read after a year in school are
seen as failing -- this is at an age before children even start school
in many countries.
The extension of this pedagogy into younger and younger children is
worrying. Much of what this article refers to as lacking in pre-school
children is educational rather than developmental or social (early
reading, phonological awareness, writing own name).
There is also a social class implication. The thinking harks back to
Bernstein's work half a century ago. There is a belief that formal
instruction can and should replace the 'inadequacies' of the environment
in working class homes. The poorest children in the UK are those who are
entitled to be given a free school lunch, and this is a measure of
disadvantage widely used in the UK.

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Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr)
School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT
NB: Reply to a.f.gupta at
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