I just re-watched Sir Ken Robinson’s latest TED talk. My favorite line is this: “A three-year-old is not half a six-year-old.”
We give kindergartners homework because they need to develop good study skills; after all, they’re going to have homework in first grade and they need to be ready. Of course, the only reason that first graders have homework is to prepare them for second grade. And on and on . . .
I remember learning about George Washington in elementary school. Then in 6th grade we were taught the same material with slightly more sophistication, during an American History course. Later, in Mr. Langdon’s 9th grade history course, we once again covered the Revolutionary War. I revisited the material one last time as a college freshman in yet another American History course.
Thinking back, why was it important for me to learn about George Washington when I was eight years old? What, exactly, is an eight-year-old supposed to do with that information?
I think this is Robinson’s point. We view elementary school students as smaller, less intelligent adults. Instead of creating an environment dedicated to serving the developmental needs of eight-year-olds, we view that as a time to prepare them for college. But, of course, an eight-year-old is not half a 16-year-old.