December 3rd 2016


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Anti-discrimination law validates Safe Schools

CANBERRA OBSERVED Triggs on the way out, but her weapon (18C) must go too

ANALYSIS What is possible to a Trump White House

EDITORIAL Trump portends the start of a new political era

EUTHANASIA Late-night reprieve in SA Parliament

EAST ASIAN AFFAIRS Taiwan and Japan look extinction in the face

SEXUAL POLITICS Victorian Liberals pledge to scrap Safe Schools

LAW AND SOCIETY No-fault divorce a tragedy of nuclear proportions

PARENTING Experts envisage lustrous future for infant graduates

POLITICAL HISTORY Folly with a touch of good sense: Colonel Sibthorp

ECONOMICS Trump as a symptom of the end of neoliberalism

MUSIC Vale Leonard: did we ever really understand you?

CINEMA Fantastical and beastly: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

BOOK REVIEW A Life well spent

BOOK REVIEW Catholic revisals

LETTERS

FOREIGN AFFAIRS How the left whitewashed Fidel Castro

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PARENTING
Experts envisage lustrous future for infant graduates


by Chris McCormack

News Weekly, December 3, 2016

The earlier we relinquish our children’s education to the “experts”, the better off they will be. This seems to be the latest catch-cry of a study from the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University.

Of course, the mainstream Austra­lian media were all over the study like a rash, lapping up the theory as the answer to unlocking untapped genius in our children, and some commentators were even relishing the reduction in parental time spent educating/playing with their children.

"Don't cry, Mum. There is now a single scientificalistical study
that refutes the contention that dumping me here does me any harm.
And just make sure you get back when the big hand is on '4' and the little hand is on '6'."

Dr Stacey Fox, lead author of the study – cumbrously entitled “Preschool: Two years are better than one. Developing a universal preschool program for Australian 3 year olds: Evidence, policy and implementation” – suggested that sending three year olds to 15 hours of pre-school per week was vital for their readiness for school, subsequently boosting their educational performance and graduation rates and having them, in her words, “go on to have a much brighter future”.[1]

Dr Fox posited that children who experience two years of pre-school from age three develop “really great relationships with their educators”, learn through play and exploration, having “lots of conversations”, learning to express their thoughts and seizing upon chances to ask questions. They develop solutions to problems and make friends while being taught how to be resilient and become confident.

Well, excuse me if I don’t swallow her message, dispensed with a vacillating furrowed brow of apparent earnest concern and Cheshire cat-like smile. I thought a really great relationship with your parents would be of much more value than one with a teacher you probably won’t even remember by the time you get to primary school. Generations of well-adapted and incredibly smart individuals have been raised by their parents until school age, with not a pre-school in sight. To suggest that preschool at age three is now necessary for competence in many areas, is questionable, at best.

The Mitchell Institute has asked the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to consider a “scoping study” as to funding pre-school for three year olds.

An article by Gwen Dewar on her website, Parenting Science, cites a Stanford and University of California study of 14,000 children that looked at the effects of preschool attendance on academic skills, interpersonal skills, self-control, and rates of aggression. While centre-based care did raise maths and reading scores, it had a detrimental effect on social behaviour. White children experienced adverse effects from three hours of care per day, with that effect more than doubled at six hours per day.[2]

Dewar also cites a 2003 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) study, an extensive longitudinal study on the effects of child care on children under five. This study examined over 1,000 subjects. Dewar writes: “Researchers found that the more time kids spent in non-maternal care during the first 4.5 years of life, the more behavioural problems they developed. Problems included defiance-like talking back, throwing temper tantrums, and refusing to cooperate.

“They also included aggressive behaviours – being cruel, destroying toys and other objects, and getting into physical fights. In addition, kids who spent more time in child care were rated as less socially competent by their mothers and kindergarten teachers.”

Dewar added that one might assume these negative outcomes were the result of inadequate centre-based care, but it seems the opposite is true. Children from higher socio-economic backgrounds – and presumably in higher-grade care, fared worse. She cited that another study of “over 6,000 U.S. preschoolers found no correlation between school quality and socio-emotional outcomes”.

Admittedly, not every child’s behaviour was adversely affected by pre-school attendance. but the trick is figuring out who is vulnerable and who is not. The research certainly refutes the claims that early centre-based care is necessary for child socialisation.

Casting doubt on the assertions that pre-schooling permanently elevates educational outcomes are the cases of the U.S. states of Georgia and Oklahoma, where preschool for four year olds has been taxpayer funded since 1993 and 1998, respectively. More than two decades after universal preschool was introduced, Georgian fourth graders finally attained the national average in reading; while in Oklahoma, fourth-grader reading scores have declined since the program’s introduction in 1998, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Researchers Katherine A. Magnuson, Christopher J. Ruhm, and Jane Waldfogel analysed data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study to measure the impact of pre-kindergarten on children’s school readiness and behaviour. They report in “Does pre-kindergarten improve school preparation and performance?” that “pre-kindergarten increases reading and mathematics skills at school entry, but also increases behavioural problems and reduces self-control”.[3]

They also discovered that “the effects of pre-kindergarten on skills largely dissipate by the spring of first grade, although the behavioural effects do not.” Pre-kindergarten attendees’ reading and maths skills at kindergarten entry increased significantly, but “the cognitive benefits of pre-kindergarten quickly fade”.

For the majority of children, “70 to 80 per cent of the cognitive gains associated with attending pre-kindergarten have faded out by the spring of the first grade”, the researchers found.

So, while literary/numeracy skills in preschool attendees improved, for most it seems to be temporary, while the anti-social qualities are of a more permanent nature.

While academic achievement and social development are areas of contention regarding early preschool, another worrying development is the increasing sexualisation of children. There is a push in schools (and no doubt preschools) to impart ideologically driven messages masquerading as children’s story books.

One only has to look at the Safe Schools program operating in primary schools in Victoria (the Victorian Government refused to remove it as other states did following a Federal Government directive), which contains highly sexualised content, to see the infiltration into schools of the LGBTI agenda.

Some of the children’s books with gender-fluid themes include The Gender Fairy, Introducing Teddy, My New Mommy and My New Daddy. All up, 34 children’s picture-story books are listed on Rainbow Owl, a website that describes itself as providing “books and resources for embracing and supporting trans and gender-diverse children and young people”.

Indoctrinating children via books that teach that gender is not biological or binary but fluid and whatever you want it to be, is akin to child abuse. Children are taught to question their biologically given sex and their sexuality. The emotional confusion and mental anguish these materials provoke will do great damage to innocent, malleable minds.

According to Cordelia Hebblethwaite, writing for BBC news, the Egalia preschool in Stockholm, Sweden, says its aim is to free children from social expectations based on their sex. They don’t use traditional pronouns such as “him” and “her” but rather “friends” or “hen”, and the reading books have been selected to avoid traditional presentations of gender and parenting roles.[4]

It is entirely conceivable that this kind of genderless preschool could exist in Australia.

It has been the favoured method of education of communist nations to remove children from the influence of their parents as early on as possible, so as to indoctrinate them with the propaganda of the ideology of the state in their formative years, knowing full well that what they learn by age eight forms the basis of their belief system for life.

There is always the danger when parents hand over education of young children to state or centre-based care that there may be insidious motives playing out in their formation.

The long-term academic advan­tages of preschool for three year olds are questionable at best, and the adverse findings in relation to social/behavioural outcomes is backed by overwhelming evidence. Why, then, are governments pouring copious amounts of money into funding preschool for three year olds? The potential for harm is far greater than any claimed benefits.

 

References

[1] Stacey Fox and Myra Geddes, “Preschool: Two years are better than one. Developing a universal preschool program for Australian 3 year olds – evidence, policy and implementation”, Mitchell Institute, Report No. 03, October 2016.

 

[2] Gwen Dewar, “The dark side of preschool: Peers, social skills, and stress”, parentingscience.com, 2013.

 

[3] Katherine A. Magnuson, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel, “Does prekindergarten improve school preparation and performance?” NBER Working Paper No. 10452, April 2004.

 

[4] Cordelia Hebblethwaite, “Sweden’s ‘gender-neutral’ pre-school” BBC News, July 8, 2011.




























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