ERIC Number: ED433146
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1999-Sep
Distinctions between Academic and Intellectual Goals in Early Childhood Education.
Katz, Lilian G.
Contrasting approaches to early childhood education are evident in the constructivist versus instructivist schools of thought. On one side, the child is seen as active constructor of knowledge and understanding; on the other, the child is dependent on another's instruction in knowledge and skills. This paper explores some of the implications of the traditional dichotomies in the field of early childhood education and raises issues leading to other ways to define the goals of the field. To a large extent both sides of the early childhood curriculum debate may be overlooking other options. In particular, the debate under-emphasizes and under-values a third option: namely, the importance of children's intellectual development. Differences between intellectual and academic goals and activities are outlined: while academic goals address small units of knowledge and skills, intellectual goals address dispositions or habits of mind that include a variety of tendencies to interpret experience. It is reasonable to assume that the major intellectual dispositions are in-born in all children, but that unless the curriculum provides contexts in which the intellectual dispositions can be exercised and strengthened, they may be weakened or even lost. However, a strong academic "instructivist" approach may undermine the disposition to use the very knowledge and skills so intensely instructed. Thus the appropriate curriculum for young children is one that addresses the acquisition of academic skills (for example, how to read) in such a way that the dispositions to use them are also strengthened (for example, liking to read). The paper concludes by describing project work as a context for exercising both intellectual dispositions and academic skills. Contains 30 references. (EV)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A