Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Kindergarten Cell

This little article has stirred up a small tempestita on facebook and the twitter. "Rethinking the Colorful Kindergarten Classroom" by Jan Hoffman, and the argument that has sprung up with it is one more signpost on our road to education hell.

Hoffman is simply passing on some research that says all the colors and pictures and decorations etc etc etc are a distraction for tiny minds, and perhaps our students are best served by a more spartan environment. "Grrr-reat!" say her detractors. "While we're at it, let's strip the walls bare, board up any windows and paint it all grey."

"Not so fast," say other teacher voices. "That's all easy to say if you've never tried to teach an over-stimulated five-year-old." And that's before we get to special needs or ADHD students.

Me? I haven't picked a side in this fight because I am too busy being horrified that we're having the argument in the first place. Seriously. Take a step back with me, please, and look at what's going on.

We are having an argument about the best environment for five year old academics. Our metric is test scores for five year olds. Test. Scores. For. Five. Year. Olds.

Ultimately this is an argument about the best way to cook and eat the family dog. It's an argument about the best club to use on your children. It's an argument about the best way to steer a car blindfolded.

It's an argument about the best way to do something that shouldn't be done in the first place.

This is how we're going to measure success in a Kindergarten classroom? Not happy children enjoying play and socializing with friends? Not joyous human beings learning how to be themselves and enjoy a broader bigger world? But test scores? Test scores???

Standardized tests have no place in Kindergarten. Academic instruction has no place in Kindergarten. We are arguing about whether to put small children in a pretty cell or a plain cell, when we should be fighting to keep them out of a cell in the first place.


  1. As if my anxiety about sending my daughter to kindergarten in Sept. wasn't bad enough! She got my first choice for school/program, but that means more intensive school work and more homework. IMO, kindergarteners should not have ANY homework. First graders, maybe 15 minutes.

  2. Two extremes in my opinion -- chaotic environment vs. dreary cell. Just another case where Waldorf has it right, providing a home-like play environment and subdued, calming colors in the young child's classroom.