Several people have asked me, a co-op preschool teacher, how I am voting on the Prop 1A v. 1B question here in Seattle, WA. First, let me say that I (we all, I’m sure) want high quality education for children (through college/vo-tech). Of course! I do not believe, however, that children younger than 6 years of age need to be “educated” by adults. I believe that children of this age are best educated by themselves.
As a teacher, I believe it is my responsibility to 1. learn each child. What turns them on and what are their trickiest challenges. 2. Repeatedly offer tools in how to self-name and manage emotions and how to use appropriate physical tools and materials safely. Other than these, the most important part of my job (and why I choose this work) is to create delicious problems for kids to solve then get out of the way, but not too far, so they can fail, question, taste, mark, smash, wear, poke, ram, offer, steal and otherwise create more problems to solve for themselves.
My class knows that I (or another adult) will be right there to offer a hand, get more materials or help mediate a challenge. This is what they need me to do. This kind of exploration happens best in small groups, very small groups.
Okay, so back to how I am voting on the propositions. I am voting Yes on question 1 and For 1A because “childcare workers” should earn at least $25 an hour (okay, $15). Childcare costs should not be > 10% of family income. Violent felons should not be in the childcare field and there should be an organization to facilitate communication between the City and Childcare Workers. I like that the presumption here is that well trained, well paid workers (I like the term facilitators) can provide all that is needed for very young children to develop social skills and fall deeply in love with learning together. You do not need an expensive college degree to offer this. You just don’t. You don’t need fancy buildings – a home with a yard will do nicely.
1B proposes a Citywide offering of affordable preschools provided by qualified people. We actually already have that option now through our high quality cooperative school programs except we (teachers) are not required to have 4 year degrees in education. This is troubling for some, but I believe that requiring early childhood facilitators to have a specialized bachelors degree is prohibitive and unnecessary if good and affordable training/certification is available. Finally, children of this age group, SHOULD NOT BE TESTED/EVALUATED. This proposition was perhaps written and funded by excellent, well meaning folks, but early childhood educators, public school elementary teachers and caregivers, who are on their knees with this age group daily, were not specifically consulted or contributors to the writing of this proposition.
In a nutshell, trust children. Trust childhood. Children are hardwired to be extremely curious and will naturally wrestle with problems that are interesting to them. Spoon fed lessons will simply go in then out the other end with little to zero absorption. They will tell you and show you what they want to learn. Create magnificent early childcare facilitators by offering them affordable instruction and a livable wage and benefits, and offer LOTS of truly affordable childcare and we will reap healthier, happier humans.
And parents – hey – how about it – create problems together with your kid/s, offer TONS of cheap materials and plenty of time to solve the problems. And make messes. And sing and dance and read and fuck up and say you’re sorry and grow stuff and hug them. A lot. You’re already doing this, right?