As new academic programs and initiatives are presented with great fanfare during professional development, and the latest and greatest curriculums are paraded down school corridors, whispering can be heard from behind classroom doors. The Emperor’s new curricula are shocking and many teachers are extremely concerned about the increasing expectations for elementary classrooms. And yet, most teachers are afraid to point out the obvious flaws in these new curricula. Not surprisingly, the newest teachers are usually silent. They don’t want to be accused of being incompetent, unprepared, or unable to handle the expectations their schools and districts have set for their young students. And often, seasoned teachers are silent. They don’t want to be accused of being ignorant, rigid, or reluctant to embrace the glorious innovations and changes occurring in early education.
But the fact remains, something is terribly wrong. Who will be brave and risk criticism? It is the children who tell the truth, often in silence. Are we listening? Anxiety, stress, disruptive behaviors, decreasing attendance rates, increasing expulsion rates, and most alarmingly, self-harm and suicide are creeping into the lives of our youngest students. The statistics are a clear sign that something is terribly wrong.
Question the Emporer’s new curriculum, and pay attention to the alarming statistics which echo the voices of our children. Most importantly, bring daily play back into the lives of our children.