History of Early Childhood Education in America


History of Early Childhood Education in America

History of early childhood education in America when does the history of early childhood really begin why is it important that you know some of this history any historian will tell you that we can learn some very valuable lessons from  our past history allows us to better understand how we got to the present moment we are not born with child development knowledge most of what we know about a child’s development has evolved over time

The people you will be introduced in this article are important to our profession because of their commitment to young children when does history when does the history of early childhood really begin as far back as 350 BC Plato’s laws and Aristotle’s politics both made note of developmental characteristics and caretaking demands related to them Plato comments on swaddling rocking and cooing to infants he knows how important the formation of character is in these early years and emphasizes that children need protection from pain fear grief and corruption Aristotle’s advice is even more detailed he felt infants and toddlers should have free use of their limbs and become acclimated to the cult very early he also stressed that babies be given plenty of milk now remember wine was an acceptable substitute back then because it was a whole lot easier to get wine than it was now that these two gentlemen even thought of childhood as a separate stage is absolutely

amazing not much is recorded concerning young children until the 15th century Martin Luther and Erasmus both theologians attempted to promote early childhood education Martin Luther was the first theologian to suggest that everyone should be able to read God’s Word back in those days only priests and very wealthy people could read Martin Luther discovered it was very easy to teach young children this meaning a child about the age of seven was very easy to teach this age child to learn to read harassment also had some revolutionary ideas for his day now remember religion back in the 15th century was held fire and brimstone so Erasmus felt the children were born good and should be valued for their hope of the future this was a novel concept hundreds of years ago childhood was not a pleasant experience back then children pretty much took care of themselves the centuries from the fourteenth of the 17th century were very long years of major political economic and religious transition in Europe and in America it’s almost impossible to find pictures of children during this timeframe a few scholars tried to keep the concept of early childhood alive John cominius kept Martin Luther’s ideas alive he kept stressing to anyone that would listen that he believed that young children’s minds were moldable like Martin Luther he kept repeating if we educate children when they are young our hope for the future will be better john cominius also can be credited with writing the very first children’s book now it wasn’t a lot Latin but the thought was still there that children need their own literature John Gutenberg exerted more influence than any of the people discussed up to this point many of you have studied about the printing press was John Gutenberg that accomplished this momento monumental task and printed the Bible as his first mission history books will tell you that this changed the world some people are saying that about the Internet in our age allowing more people access to the written word is very important and can cause great change it wasn’t until 1693 when a man by the name of John Locke published an article entitled some thoughts concerning education that the field of early childhood actually education in general was often running his article was filled with detailed advice on the physical and

psychological training of children how did John Locke come to know so much about children historical writings indicate that he appointed himself guardian of all his friends children and he hired himself as a tutor to more closely work and observe these fascinating little creatures most of what he advocated is accepted as common sense when we think of young children today jean-jacques rousseau was a French political philosopher he became a more controversial figure than then Locke Rousseau was very concerned about the balance of freedom and authority as well as all the potential evil supposedly inherent in a child’s natural impulses he though like many of his predecessors firmly believed that children were born good this is still a revolutionary theory because it went totally against the religious beliefs of the aged person was born into sin they must repent be saved redeemed and spend one’s life paying penance Rousseau felt the children were interactive products of their very own impulses and environmental demands a very controversial theory but hold it in mind because we will encounter it again Rousseau had many followers Pestalozzi was a teacher and translated many of Rousseau’s theories into educational practice Rousseau wrote that children were not capable of true formal reasoning until age 12 so Peschel only advocated that children not start any formal education until the age of 12 his idea was about as well accepted as it would be today imagine children not starting school until age 12 Frederick Froebel followed in the footsteps of Rousseau and pestalozzi fröbel was a teacher and very practical about wife and children he thought play was the very essence of childhood so why not let children play in school voila kindergarten was born for those of you familiar with the German language kindergarten is translated into children’s garden Charles Darwin is most noted for his publication origin of the species and his Darwinian theory to those of us in the early childhood field he should be remembered as a very astute observer of young children he followed and recorded his own son’s development he was of the he was one of the first people to make note of infant reflexes he was trying to provide data for his theory of evolution but his publications in 1877 of his observations on children began to validate the field of research building dealing with children by the late 1800s there are numerous manuals and journals on childhood and home life G Stanley Hall returns from graduate study in Europe in which he opened the field of early childhood research in America at that time we will soon discover and lets his documented documented documented it’s really not research dr. Hall returned from his European studies with a newly devised questionnaire method his object with the stack of papers was to investigate the content of children’s minds Hall’s questionnaire have formed a basis for many of the aptitude tests that we still use today many of the later theorists we will talk about were his students at Hopkins University with G Stanley Hall that introduced Sigmund Freud to America what do you remember about Sigmund Freud many of dr. Freud’s are highly disputed today but dr. Sigmund did the field of early childhood a great service he was a loud advocate for the pleasure-pain theory this became known as the theory of psychosexual development or psychoanalytical theory this theory maintains that from the earliest infancy we are motivated by powerful instincts to seek pleasure and that different ages different parts of our body become the focus of pleasure he also proposed that a child’s growth occurs in biologically determined state stages which there was a very new concept back then he also

advocated attachment theory babies need people they can depend on that will love them unconditionally that will take care of them he was totally against letting a child cry themselves to sleep remember during this time the child is still not generally accepted as a child or as being in lately good our ancestors were Puritans childhood and education were not viewed as anything particularly positive children went to work as early as age seven or eight they could crawl into the small crevices and the coal mines and into factory equipment that weren’t for the desire of Puritan parents to have their children be able to read the Bible we might never have had education John Dewey being a religious man himself pushed the idea of education into the 20th century he wrote a book titled democracy and education which argued that education was growth he insisted that America would never be a democratic society without education and this definitely struck a nerve with Americans so let’s educate our children but what is the best way hmm enter the era of psychology and animal research reward and Punishment Pavlov’s dog we still ascribe to some of pavlo theories today BF Skinner is also considered a behaviorist according to Skinner all behavior is learned and can be shaped or modified interestingly enough Skinner was not an advocate of punishment but many people do interpret his theory as either reward or punishment most of us have encountered children that are reinforced when we punish them they wanted our attention and when they misbehave we gave them their attention so they continued to misbehave research-wise the study of children and their development is just beginning what’s happening in the real world Marie Montessori is making her mark the nature-nurture conflict is real what influences a child genes or environment Maria was a loud advocate for the nurture side the environment she thought had money she thought the environment had monumental influences on the child changed the environment and you can change a person she was quoted as saying she was also convinced that any child could be educated given the right environment patty Smith Hall was the founder of the National Association for the education of young children by 1930 early childhood is indeed slowly becoming a field into its home patty Smith Hill was a professor at Columbia now remember this is a time when a woman’s place is in the home so being a professor at an Ivy League school was a very big deal she opened a lab school why she was there which was also a new concept she called a conference which was the beginning of the National Association for the education of young children and lastly she is the one credited with having written the happy birthday song that we sing on our birthdays before we zip through time to a less pleasant time in American history I thought you might enjoy this coloring page that I found by doing my research the the world of high living didn’t last long World War one ends in 1918 in World War two starts in 1939 how does this affect early childhood research stops completely but childcare centers come into their own World War two quickly became a woman’s war as well a real man is summoned to serve so women are left behind to run the factories and businesses as can be expected we step up to the challenge women are concerned about their children so the government says no problem we will set up childcare centers and your children will be well taken care of the Works Progress Administration WPI for short was a document government program established to take care of women and children during World War two

they met the challenge 150 percent these were some of the best childcare centers that ever existed men returned the war ends men returned to the universities and start research again Albert bandura and his social learning theory introduces the concept of learning by imitation and observation we pretty much take for granted today if you’ve never heard of jean piaget take some time and get to know him you will encounter him again and again in the early childhood field he’s the man often we call him the grandfather of cognitive development much of what we do in our classroom is based on PJ’s research hands-on learning open-ended questions stages of development children constructing their own knowledge Lu Vygotsky has appeared since his death because his Russian writings were not translated until the early 60s we do group him with Piaget because he was a constructivist he believed that children construct their own knowledge he though is noted for the concepts of zone of proximal development the PD and scaffolding which we’ll talk more about Erick Erickson yes he created his own name was a psycho social theorist and developed stages Mary Ainsworth these are all the people that are presently in the research field we’ll talk a little bit more about them later on course all righty we’ve come a long way maybe too far we’re hearing cries up getting back to basic standards testing our universal pre-k programs demand that we teach in letters and numbers which sometimes do not seem developmentally appropriate we keep hearing that our children need to be tested to go on so all issues we need to consider all.

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