Too Much Too Young
UK: Channel 4 Dispatches: January 1998 – 40 minutes
The documentary contrasts kindergarten practice in German Switzerland, Hungary and Flemish Belgium with that in Britain and shows how kindergartens in the former focus not on reading and writing, but on attention, listening and above all, oral language skills.
It shows that pre-school teachers in these countries are highly regarded and seen as pursuing a cycle of education quite different to what follows, one which prepares children for learning, but does not expose them to it.
Although there is much more academic pressure in British early years’ provision, demands on attention, listening and oral language skills are far less than elsewhere. Given the importance of such skills to socialisation and intellectual development, this puts many British children at a crippling disadvantage and leads to much of the disaffection and failure which is the hall mark of so much British education.