孩子的幼儿教育不是越早越好

2015-05-26 09:46:43 来源:互联网 更多资讯、资料、活动请点

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  TWENTY years ago, kids in preschool, kindergarten and even first and second grade spent much of their time playing: building with blocks, drawing or creating imaginary worlds, in their own heads or with classmates. But increasingly, these activities are being abandoned for the teacher-led, didactic instruction typically used in higher grades. In many schools, formal education now starts at age 4 or 5. Without this early start, the thinking goes, kids risk falling behind in crucial subjects such as reading and math, and may never catch up.

  20年前,上学前班、幼儿园、甚至一二年级的孩子们,大部分时间都在玩:堆积木、画画、创作想象的世界,在脑瓜里想这些事,或和同学一起玩。但这些活动越来越多地被老师的教学所替代,而这种教育方式过去通常用于年级较高的学生。在很多学校,正规教育现在是从4或5岁开始的。人们认为,如果不提早开始接受教育,孩子们在阅读、数学等关键科目上恐怕会落后,或许永远都无法再赶回来。

  The idea seems obvious: Starting sooner means learning more; the early bird catches the worm.

  这个想法似乎是显而易见的:越早开始意味着学到的越多:早起的鸟儿有虫吃。

  But a growing group of scientists, education researchers and educators say there is little evidence that this approach improves long-term achievement; in fact, it may have the opposite effect, potentially slowing emotional and cognitive development, causing unnecessary stress and perhaps even souring kids’ desire to learn.

  但越来越多的科学家、教育研究者和教育工作者表示,没有证据表明这种方式会提高长期的成绩;实际上,它可能会带来相反的效果,可能会阻碍情感及认知方面的发展,造成不必要的压力,甚至可能会扼杀孩子的求知欲。

  One expert I talked to recently, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor emerita of education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., describes this trend as a “profound misunderstanding of how children learn.” She regularly tours schools, and sees younger students floundering to comprehend instruction: “I’ve seen it many, many times in many, many classrooms — kids being told to sit at a table and just copy letters. They don’t know what they’re doing. It’s heartbreaking.”

  我最近与马萨诸塞州坎布里奇莱斯利大学(Lesley University)的教育学荣休教授南茜·卡尔松-佩奇(Nancy Carlsson-Paige)有过一番交谈。卡尔松-佩奇称,这种趋势反映了对“孩子的学习过程深深的误解”。她定期参观学校,看到很多年纪较小的学生无法理解授课内容:“我在很多教室看到过很多类似的情况,老师让学生坐在桌子旁,抄写字母。他们不知道自己在干什么。真让人感到难过。”

  The stakes in this debate are considerable. As the skeptics of teacher-led early learning see it, that kind of education will fail to produce people who can discover and innovate, and will merely produce people who are likely to be passive consumers of information, followers rather than inventors. Which kind of citizen do we want for the 21st century?

  这场争论事关重大。在教师早期指导的质疑者看来,那种教育方式无法培养出能够发现、创新的人才,只会培养出倾向于被动接受信息的人,追随者,而不是创造者。在21世纪,我们需要的是哪种公民?

  In the United States, more academic early education has spread rapidly in the past decade. Programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have contributed to more testing and more teacher-directed instruction.

  在过去10年中,越来越多的早期教育措施在美国迅速蔓延。《不让孩子掉队》法案 (No Child Left Behind)、“力争上游”计划(Race to the Top)等项目,促使学生面对更多测验,接受更多由教师主导的教学。

  Another reason: the Common Core State Standards, a detailed set of educational guidelines meant to ensure that students reach certain benchmarks between kindergarten and 12th grade. Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia have adopted both the math and language standards.

  另一个原因:各州共同核心标准(Common Core State Standards)。这套详尽的教育方针,旨在确保学生在经历幼儿园到12年级的学习后,达到一定的标准。目前,43个州和哥伦比亚特区采纳了数学和语言方面的标准。

  The shift toward didactic approaches is an attempt to solve two pressing problems.

  转而采用说教的方式是为了解决两个紧迫的问题。

  By many measures, American educational achievement lags behind that of other countries; at the same time, millions of American students, many of them poor and from minority backgrounds, remain far below national norms. Advocates say that starting formal education earlier will help close these dual gaps.

  从很多方面来看,美国的教育成就落后于其他国家;与此同时,数百万美国学生的成绩仍远远低于全国水平,这些学生中很多人家境贫困,属于少数族裔。倡导人士表示,提前开始正规教育将有助于缩小这种双重差距。

  But these moves, while well intentioned, are misguided. Several countries, including Finland and Estonia, don’t start compulsory education until the age of 7. In the most recent comparison of national educational levels, the Program for International Student Assessment, both countries ranked significantly higher than the United States on math, science and reading.

  这些举措虽然都是出自善意,却是受到了误导。包括芬兰和爱沙尼亚在内的几个国家的义务教育都是从7岁才开始。国际学生评估项目(Program for International Student Assessment)对各个国家的教育水平做出的最新对比显示,这两个国家在数学、科学及阅读能力上的排名都比美国高。

  Of course, these countries are smaller, less unequal and less diverse than the United States. In such circumstances, education poses fewer challenges. It’s unlikely that starting school at 7 would work here: too many young kids, disadvantaged or otherwise, would probably end up watching hours of TV a day, not an activity that promotes future educational achievement. But the complexities of the task in this country don’t erase a fundamental fact that overly structured classrooms do not benefit many young children.

  当然,这些国家比美国小,不平等和多样性的程度也较低。在这样的情况下,教育构成的挑战较少。7岁开始上学的政策在美国不太可能行得通:那会导致太多小孩——无论贫困与否——可能一天会看几个小时的电视,而不是参加提升未来教育成绩的活动。在美国,教育的任务非常复杂,但这也没有消除一个基本事实,即课堂组织过于死板对许多儿童没有好处。

  Some research indicates that early instruction in reading and other areas may help some students, but these boosts appear to be temporary. A 2009 study by Sebastian P. Suggate, an education researcher at Alanus University in Germany, looked at about 400,000 15-year-olds in more than 50 countries and found that early school entry provided no advantage. Another study by Dr. Suggate, published in 2012, looked at a group of 83 students over several years and found that those who started at age 5 had lower reading comprehension than those who began learning later.

  一些研究显示,阅读及其他方面的早期指导,可能会帮助一些学生,但这种帮助似乎是暂时的。德国阿兰努斯大学(Alanus University)的教育研究者塞巴斯蒂安·P·萨盖特(Sebastian P. Suggate)在2009年开展了一项研究,对50多个国家的40万名15岁学生进行调查,发现早上学并没有带来优势。萨盖特在2012年发表的另一项研究,在几年的时间里对83名学生开展了调查,结果发现那些5岁开始学习的学生,阅读理解能力不如晚些开始学习的学生。

  Other research has found that early didactic instruction might actually worsen academic performance. Rebecca A. Marcon, a psychology professor at the University of North Florida, studied 343 children who had attended a preschool class that was “academically oriented,” one that encouraged “child initiated” learning, or one in between. She looked at the students’ performance several years later, in third and fourth grade, and found that by the end of the fourth grade those who had received more didactic instruction earned significantly lower grades than those who had been allowed more opportunities to learn through play. Children’s progress “may have been slowed by overly academic preschool experiences that introduced formalized learning experiences too early for most children’s developmental status,” Dr. Marcon wrote.

  其他研究发现,早期教学实际上可能会使学业表现变得更糟。北佛罗里达大学(University of North Florida)心理学教授丽贝卡·A·马尔孔(Rebecca A. Marcon)对343名参加学前教育的儿童进行了研究,其中有的学前班“以学业为导向”,有的鼓励“儿童自发”学习,或者介于两者之间。她在几年之后查看这些已经升入三或四年级的学生的表现,发现四年级的学习结束后,那些接受教学式指导的学生的成绩远低于那些有更多机会通过玩来学习的孩子的成绩。马尔孔写道,“学前班促使儿童接触正式的学习经历,这对于大多数儿童的成长阶段来说都是过早的,而这种过多的学前班学习经历可能会阻碍”儿童的进步。

  Nevertheless, many educators want to curtail play during school. “Play is often perceived as immature behavior that doesn’t achieve anything,” says David Whitebread, a psychologist at Cambridge University who has studied the topic for decades. “But it’s essential to their development. They need to learn to persevere, to control attention, to control emotions. Kids learn these things through playing.”

  然而,很多教育人士希望缩短孩子在学习期间的玩耍时间。“玩通常被认为是一种不成熟的行为,不会成就任何事情,”剑桥大学(Cambridge University)心理学家戴维·瓦特布雷(David Whitebread)说。“但这在他们的成长过程中是必不可少的。他们需要学会坚持、控制注意力,控制感情。孩子通过玩耍学会这些事情。”瓦特布雷研究该课题已有数十年时间。

  Over the past 20 years, scientists have come to understand much more about how children learn. Jay Giedd, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, has spent his career studying how the human brain develops from birth through adolescence; he says most kids younger than 7 or 8 are better suited for active exploration than didactic explanation. “The trouble with over-structuring is that it discourages exploration,” he says.

  在过去20年中,科学家已经对孩子的学习过程有了更多了解。加州大学圣迭戈分校(University of California, San Diego)神经系统学家杰伊·吉德(Jay Giedd)的专业领域是研究人类大脑从出生到青春期的发育过程;他表示,与说教式的解释相比,大多数不到7或8岁的孩子更适合主动探索。他说,“过于死板的教学会阻碍探索。”

  Reading, in particular, can’t be rushed. It has been around for only about 6,000 years, so the ability to transform marks on paper into complex meaning is not pre-wired into the brain. It doesn’t develop “naturally,” as do other complex skills such as walking; it can be fostered, but not forced. Too often that’s what schools are trying to do now. This is not to suggest that we shouldn’t increase access to preschool, and improve early education for disadvantaged children. But the early education that kids get — whatever their socioeconomic background — should truly help their development. We must hope that those who make education policy will start paying attention to this science.

  尤其是阅读,不能急于求成。阅读只有大约6000年的历史,因此大脑并不先天具备将纸上的符号转化为复杂含义的能力。与走路等复杂技能不同,阅读能力不是“天生的”;这种能力可以培养,但不能强迫掌握。而学校现在常常迫使学生掌握这种能力。这不是说,我们不应该增加接受学前教育的机会,改善贫困儿童的早期教育。但无论其社会经济背景如何,孩子们接受的早期教育应该真正帮助他们发展。我们希望教育政策制定者会开始关注这方面的科学研究。

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