Little children are like sponges, soaking up knowledge of the world around them every minute. So when they start formal education, how much science, social studies and the arts do students in elementary school get? Teaching these subjects used to be important. Learning in these areas sent some of us into our future professions.
We know that No Child Left Behind left a serious gap when it comes to these subjects. It was all about high-stakes testing in reading and math. How many times did we hear some school reformer say that you had to be able to read before you tackled any other subject? Yet, interest in other subjects can assist a child in reading!
This has been especially troubling for children attending poor schools, but it affects all students.
With the emphasis now on Common Core State Standards, which also focuses mostly on reading and math, now what happens with these other subjects? Teachers are pushed to have students focus on math and reading for the PARCC and SBAC assessment. Think about what’s missing.
Consider science. Little children are fascinated with life. They are mystified with bugs—amazed by the stars at night. Children are open to learning about the physical and natural world. So what happens when they start school?
How do elementary schools pursue this great subject? The foundation parents and teachers set when it comes to science could lead a young child to a variety of scientific pursuits, when they are older, that advance the world. What are children missing? Still!
Cleaning up pollution, finding cures for diseases, and exploration into the unknown are just a few of the advances in science that could be ignited in early childhood.
I repeat, how much science do children get in elementary school? What repercussions will we face in the future because science was not addressed well at this early stage?
What about social studies? Some high schools are even cutting required credits at this level, yet students need an understanding of our world more than ever before!
This was one of my favorite subjects as a child. I delighted at looking at my social studies text. I remember my fascination at seeing the pictures of layered rice paddies in Asia. I loved looking at the different kinds of brightly colored clothing children my age wore.
Children are naturally curious about other cultures, and elementary school is the perfect time to teach about people around the world.
My love for social studies also led me to read books about stories in other countries—like When the Dikes Broke, by Alta Halveson Seymore. This is an exciting story about a child who lived on a farm in the Netherlands during the great flood of 1953. The book is based on that event. I thought about that story during the tragic events surrounding Hurricane Katrina.
How much social studies do children get in elementary school?
How much of the arts do children get?
We all know that many poor schools dismiss the arts—art, music and drama are thrown out the window. Sometimes artisans show up at schools for a special day which, in my opinion, only reminds children of what they are missing.
How many students in elementary school get to experiment with putting on a play?
My elementary school would do a winter and spring play! For weeks at a time we would break up reading, math, and social studies lessons to practice our parts and act on the stage. We sang songs and painted background scenes. Such experiences were rich in teaching cooperation, self-confidence and reading and memory skills.
Getting to sing led some into choir later on and the rest of us gravitated to playing musical instruments.
Also, it brought the community together. Parents delight in watching their children performing. It is much better than hearing about test scores at a lonely meeting.
So how many children get to put on plays at their school today?
Getting a well-rounded education can only lift a child when it comes to reading and math. It can also keep children engaged when they have difficulty in those subjects.
Our public schools must require a well-rounded curriculum for all children. Science, social studies and the arts are important subjects, and their loss will have far reaching consequences.
For far too long troubling reforms have been allowed to reduce public schooling to nothingness. It is time to reclaim the meaning and purpose of public education.