Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On Kindergarten

This was posted on the National Review Weblog.... I've always liked Father Rutler. He has a monthly feature in Crisis Magazine entitled "Cloud of Witnesses" which is always a profile of someone he knew who died......

My Wife Takes a Rather Different View [Peter Robinson]
In an eariler post I noted that, after two days in kindergarten last week, our five-year old announced that she had no intention of returning. (The mood passed.) Noticing this, Fr. George Rutler, our unofficial chaplain here on the Corner, offers his own views on the proper education of the very young.

I'd encourage your youngest one to abandon kindergarten altogether. Almost everything I learned was learned outside the classroom, and school itself interrupted my education. Moreover, school locks you in with your peers. That is a mistake. One's social circle should never include one's equals.

From my earliest years I found children uninteresting and always preferred the company of adults. This was an advantage, because I got to know lots of folks who are dead now whom I never would have known if I had waited until I was an adult. - So I have a collective memory - and oral tradition - that goes back to the eighteenth century, having spoken with people who knew people who knew people who knew people who lived then. -

The only real university is the universe and a city its microcosm. That is why an expression like "New York University" is foolish. New York City is the university….Instead of school, children should spend some hours each day in hotel lobbies talking to the guests.

They should spend time in restaurant kitchens and shops and garages of all kinds, learning from people who actually make the world work….One day spent roaming through a real classical church building would be the equivalent of one academic term in any of our schools, and a little time spent inconspicuously in a police station would be more informative than all the hours wasted on bogus social sciences.

Formal lessons would only be required for accuracy in spelling and proficiency in public speaking, for which the public speakers in our culture are not models, and in exchange for performing some menial services a child could learn the violin, harp, and piano from musicians in one of the better cocktail lounges, or from performers in the public subways….

So I urge you to keep your child out of kindergarten, because kindergarten will only lead to first grade and then the grim sequence of grade after grade begins and takes its inexorable toll on the mind born fertile but gradually numbed by the pedants who impose on the captive child the flotsam of their own infecundity.


julie said...

point taken, but i imagine that those who never had the chance to go to kindergarten might have a different view...

Deirdre Mundy said...

That's true. And there are some kids who go to Kindergarten and love it...

One of the problems with Kindergarten, in my opinion, is that it's rather arbitrary to say "The year a child turns 5 is the year he's ready for school."

Some children are ready much earlier. Some are ready much later. Some are never ready. But the one-size-fits all approach to Kindergarten doesn't really work.

Also, whether a child considers Kindergarten a great experience or a horirble form of torture has a lot to do with whether he's an introvert or an extrovert.

For a child who loves groups of people and organized activities, Kindergarten is lots of fun.

For a child who just wants to be left alone in peace to think and explore, Kindergarten is simply a chore that keeps him from doing what helps him to learn....

So it's really a question of whether Kindergarten will benefit a specific child..... Which is a judgement call parents need to make, since they know their children better than anyone.

Barbara Frank said...

What a great commentary....IMHO, it goes double for older kids. Thanks for sharing it.