I love Johnny Appleseed and probably not for the obvious reasons. Yesterday, my youngest daughter came home from school, donning her Johnny Appleseed hat, and marking the man, the myth, and the legend. I love apples as much as the next person, but why I love this day is that it reminds me what school is supposed to be like for the little sprouts in our life. While my older daughter took her New York State Core evaluations last week, to establish her base line academic levels in 3rd grade, my kindergartner experienced magic yesterday. As their teacher told them the story of Johnny Appleseed, the kids became part of it, down to their caps, and apple snack.
Since when did preschool start our children’s quest to Harvard? There is such an overall early pressure to make Johnny and Jane readers at two; star soccer players by four; and astro –physicists by eight. Funny how this has occurred and Americans have started to lag behind other countries, so dramatically, when it comes to higher academics and graduation rates from four year colleges as reported by the Huffington Post. Is increased emphasis on standardized testing truly the way to regain ground? I remember in the 70’s we felt our education was lagging behind the USSR, Then in the 80’s it was Japan, now it is India and China.
So I am ready to woo hoo every day and project that encourages the true enjoyment of learning. From good old Johnny Appleseed and Monster Muffins for letter M to service based learning projects and group discussions that move away from the emphasis on standardized testing and Yale entrance exams. Real learning is more than standardized testing and benchmarks! I so applaud administrators and teachers who are under such pressure with evaluations, but still find the time and the way to spur a love of learning and lasting knowledge! To me imagination, creativity, wisdom, story-telling, and problem-solving are the skills we need to promote in children if we are to give them the skills and talents to be successful in an ever changing world.