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[Xmca-l] Re: A request for assistance

Dear Aggeliki

I get into this line of discussion, hoping that I have something to offer, as it is very close to my heart, my experiences and my current work. I work in an early childhood department of education and I teach mathematics pedagogy and learning courses to our undergraduates -who mostly ome from a working class background. I try to organize my courses around interdisciplinary work using digital media and expressive arts so that to prepare them for becoming designers of playful and art-based activity for the young children -so that to experience mathematical learning not as direct teaching but as connected and related. I realize that very often my students have a very limited 'taste' of what might be aesthetically appropriate for the early ages, what is play, how play could be possibly linked to joy, how work can be joyful or even how play can require discipline, logic and intuition. Of course, this 'limited taste' reflects to some extent a matter of working/middle class diversity (although such distinctions are not exactly relevant today ). Some of my students haven't visited a museum in their life and know merely commercial play as it is advertised in shops and TV.

The discussion over playful learning and how this relates to social class (especially in the early ages) is quite important and, perhaps, much more relevant today than it was a few decades ago. The topic is not new -but seems to come up again and again, although through different theorizing, empirical evidence and priorities in educational politics but also educational commerce (e.g.- see what is being bought today at such an ease by anxious parents and educators?!!...).

I can think over two publications in the field of mathematics education that may be of some use here. One is a book by Cooper, Barry and Dunne, Mairead [see exact reference ....(2000) /Assessing Children's Mathematical Knowledge: social class sex and problem solving./ <http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/27498/> Open University Press Buckingham, 215 pp. ISBN 0335-20316-7] that discusses a sociological analysis (based mainly on Bernstein) on how explicit/implicit ways of educating influence children's success and how this relates to social class and gender.

Another one is Valerie Walkerdine's well known book entitled 'Counting Girls' Out: Girls and Mathematics' published in the 80s. Although the title does not disclose its relevance to social class, this book is also closely related to the discussion of playful or 'progressive' education and its appropriation by working and middle class families (note: perhaps one needs to attend to the 'new middle classes' phenomenon due to the upgrading or even downgrading in social classes. In the 80s, much more than it is now, the family was for many households the 'mother' and the family was extended into the preschool years to the teacher -who was supposed to be the 'mother figure'. I have found very useful the discussion carried through the book over how 'playful' activity (and progressive pedagogy) influences differently social and working class 'mothers' and how related discourses tend to inscribe their interactions, behavior, pleasures, tacit assessments and evaluative comments. How, then, the child can resist or appropriate such discursive machinery? Ηow much play requires the 'meeting' of diverse discourses that, mainly relate to social class, ethnic, gendered diversities. Walkerdine provides some explanations throughout the book based on Foucault and feminist theory. I have enjoyed this book and although the book is not new it deserves an extra reading. I was recently responsible for editing its translation into Greek. Perhaps you might want to have a look in a lecture videotaped by Bodosakis foundation as an introduction to these very complex issues [ http://www.blod.gr/lectures/Pages/viewlecture.aspx?LectureID=786]. I guess you speak Greek. If not, ignore the video...

with best wishes
anna chronaki

On 19-Aug-14 8:00 AM, Tonyan, Holli A wrote:
Hi Ageliki,

I can think of two resources for your topic.

Lisa Delpit's book Other People's Children directly addresses this.  She argues (I haven't read it in a while so forgive the fuzzy description) that a "child centered" focus harms children who are from cultural backgrounds outside of white, middle class backgrounds because they need more explicit instruction in a cultural community that is not their own.

Carollee Howes book Culture and Child Development in Early Childhood Education is relevant, but less directly so.  Howes includes a number of programs that she originally saw as "skill and drill" programs and she goes to some length to articulate their beliefs and practices in the context of their community.  She's not arguing for "skill and drill" per se, but she is situating those approaches in local meaning through interviews with directors and teachers in programs that were identified by community members as excellent programs and which surprised her from her ECE background.

Delpit's book, particularly the second edition, is the clearest articulation of the argument you present in the third paragraph below:
there are some people who might be willing to concede that more
child-centered, play-based, and constructivist might be OK for young
children from educated middle class families ... but that they won't work
for poor and otherwise disadvantaged children. THOSE kids need direct
instruction to transmit "basic skills", and giving them anything else is,
at best, a distraction from giving them what they need for school readiness.

The preface to the second edition includes Delpit's description of the reactions that her colleagues have had to her arguments including those who agree (often in private and not in public) as well as those who oppose her.

Hope this helps!
Holli Tonyan

On Aug 16, 2014, at 7:11 AM, Ageliki Nicolopoulou <agn3@lehigh.edu<mailto:agn3@lehigh.edu>> wrote:

Dear XMCA community,

I'm looking for a piece of information, and I wonder whether someone on the
XMCA list has it at their fingertips.

I'm writing something that deals with Vivian Paley's storytelling and
story-acting practice. Among other things, that activity is an example of
child-centered, play-based, and constructivist approaches to early child
education--the kinds of approaches that have been getting squeezed out by
preschool practices that exclusively emphasize teacher-centered, didactic
transmission of specific academic skills by direct instruction.

A lot of people think that pushing down didacted/academic teaching
practices into preschool education is a good thing in general.  However,
there are some people who might be willing to concede that more
child-centered, play-based, and constructivist might be OK for young
children from educated middle class families ... but that they won't work
for poor and otherwise disadvantaged children. THOSE kids need direct
instruction to transmit "basic skills", and giving them anything else is,
at best, a distraction from giving them what they need for school readiness.

My problem is this.  As we all know, a lot of people think that, and they
say it in conversation, and they make written arguments that rest
implicitly on that premise. In fact, this outlook is very widespread and
influential. But I've found that very few of them seem to be willing to
actually SAY it explicitly in their published work. I'm talking about
academics and policymakers. There are pro-direct-instruction websites that
say it pretty straightforwardly. But journals want academic citations in
articles, so I'm trying to find one.

*So does anyone out there know of any published work where someone actually
SAYS that in writing?  That is, that more child-oriented, play-based, and
constructivist preschool practices (however they actually describe them)
might be OK for young children from educated middle-class homes, but are
useless or even harmful for poor and disadvantaged kids, who need more
teacher-centered, skill-based direct instruction?*

I figured it couldn't hurt to ask.

Ageliki Nicolopoulou

Ageliki Nicolopoulou
Professor of Psychology & Global Studies
Personal Webpage: https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v1/url?u=http://lehigh.academia.edu/AgelikiNicolopoulou/About&k=eRI2VDBB0Ws5kaCopmd0GA%3D%3D%0A&r=qf%2BkY0WzGaFiU9hp3%2Bd0t5Pou2Gry2wwk%2B1QGKOKBwI%3D%0A&m=nmQJWXRp5Mwrx2ct1gjgnwNUV1KUlNHqKFvn0P33J90%3D%0A&s=6a17755971ebaeca66e7a24d577fa559f5749d719fe3d9e43f0e55734c76a872
Departmental Webpage: https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v1/url?u=http://cas.lehigh.edu/CASWeb/default.aspx?id%3D1430&k=eRI2VDBB0Ws5kaCopmd0GA%3D%3D%0A&r=qf%2BkY0WzGaFiU9hp3%2Bd0t5Pou2Gry2wwk%2B1QGKOKBwI%3D%0A&m=nmQJWXRp5Mwrx2ct1gjgnwNUV1KUlNHqKFvn0P33J90%3D%0A&s=83b487928946eb760073a00968fd37eb3a53224b009ff50818ea4793fe26367c

Holli A. Tonyan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor | Department of Psychology | California State University, Northridge
Postal Address: 18111 Nordhoff Street | Northridge, CA 91330-8255

Tel: (818) 677-4970 | Fax: (818) 677-2829
Office: ST322


**check out**

Tonyan, H. A. (in press).  Everyday routines: A window into the cultural organization of family child care.  Journal of Early Childhood Research.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1476718X14523748

Tonyan, H. A., Nuttall, J. (2014).  Connecting cultural models of home-based care and childminders’ career paths: An Eco-cultural analysis.  International Journal of Early Years Education, 22, 117-138, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09669760.2013.809654

Tonyan, H. A., Mamikonian, A., & Chien, D. (2013).  Do they practice what they preach?  An Ecocultural, multidimensional, group-based examination of the relationship between beliefs and behaviours among child care providers.  Early Child Development and Care, 183:12, 1853-1877.   http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03004430.2012.759949

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