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Old 10-05-2010, 12:40 PM
Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States
288 posts, read 542,567 times
Reputation: 245


Originally Posted by syracusa View Post
I can.
I, along with all of my age peers were like this, growing up in a country that was far from an illiterate world, be it a "second world" country, economically speaking. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the culture I grew up in is overall a much more contemplative, intellectually- and critically-inclined culture than almost all western cultures I am familiar with (minus perhaps France).

However, for all the emphasis on intellectuality and higher order thinking reserved for later on, extremely few people, if any, ever considered drawing small children's attention to letters in stores, in the streets, etc. Nobody had alphabet charts in their rooms before the age of 6-7 and nobody was READ TO as a a baby or preschooler. In fact, there were no such things as baby/small children books. Many kids, however, were TOLD stories when put to bed. The tradition was oral. No print involved. Ever.

I sincerely believe that the avalanche of baby/preschooler books in the western world today has more to do with the commercial engine than with the net benefits children gain in the long run, by being read to - from a colorful picture book at very young ages. If anything, I am afraid their brains are taught to prefer stimulation by colorful and poppy pictures to attention focused on a human voice, narrating a story full of intricate details.
As such, I am a major believer in books on tape, where there is voice but no pictures to stare at; yet these are expansive and not as numerous.

I was never read to and I don't know anyone who was. However, after we learned to read, at school, I was encouraged to read out loud. I would spend hours in the kitchen reading out loud to my grandmother while she was drowning in elaborate cooking, all while listening to me.

I know this sounds "backwards" and "third world-ish" but the system managed to produce anywhere from scary brilliant minds (brilliant enough that a significant number of young people I knew won impressive International Olympiads and completed PhD-s and professional degrees at Ivies, not in native tongue, and exclusively on someone else's money) ...to many, many high-school graduates with superb writing, grammar, conversational and critical thinking skills, whose company I would not trade for the company of 20 viciously specialized and narrowly-educated western PhD-s.

All people I knew growing up had ZERO exposure to "literacy" before first grade. But they DID get to play with other children A LOT, and they did live in a society with highly sociable and communicative people, with an extremely developed sense of critical thinking (often against the system) and where even simpletons liked to talk about "society", "world affairs", express opinions and comment on "what is going on".

The extremely few parents who would have attempted the proverbial "exposure" to letters before the age of 6-7 (1st grade) were faced with serious doses of criticism, as such practice was plainly and simply regarded as "pushing" and causing harm in the long run.
It was deemed that children had absolutely no need to be aware of letters before first grade when the "real academic business" started.
I guess the philosophy was simply, "there is a time for everything".
Forget your ego and go at that pace.

In time, I grew to appreciate this seemingly outdated philosophy.

Where is this?
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:32 PM
4,044 posts, read 5,520,169 times
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Originally Posted by blackconverse View Post
Where is this?
One of the countries of Eastern Europe. I prefer to keep it at the regional level for privacy-related considerations; but the entire region was more or less the same.
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Old 10-05-2010, 10:01 PM
14,795 posts, read 15,283,539 times
Reputation: 14324
Originally Posted by syracusa View Post

I will admit my experience is biased by middle- to upper-middle class environments. In those, I have seen parents do 80% of the work.

I still don't understand how teachers were expecting my 4 yo to sign his name when he arrived at his current pre-K early this year, in January.
They surely hadn't taught him how to do this, neither were they about to.
They just expected him to do it, pretty much assuming that ...OF COURSE there is a parent at home teaching him to do this and so much more!!
It's called "involvement", right?
In middle to upper class environments, it is generally assumed that kindergarten students have been to preschool. When my children were 3, almost everyone in our neighborhood sent the kids to preschool for 2 hours a day. Most had learned to write their names at 4, though we did not expect every child to be able to do this.

Also are you sure that signing his name was an expectation. We had sign in sheets for the kids, but if they were not ready to write, they drew a picture to show they had *signed in* Our class was 3 to 5 year olds so the younger ones drew, the middle ones might write their name in all caps and the older ones used both caps and lower case letters and some even did both first and last names (that was the 5s who did not make the K cutoff usually).
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