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What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten? Paperback – March 26, 2002

ISBN-13: 063-9785334217 ISBN-10: 0071383263 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Evaluation, Not Education­­The Problems With Standardized Testing

Union members, Army recruits, even trained animals get scheduled breaks during their workday. But not schoolchildren. With an increasing focus on standardized tests, many educators say there simply isn't time for fun and games. So preoccupied are they with preparing children for tests, that the very concept of recess is regarded as superfluous.

What Happened to Recess and Why Are Out Children Struggling in Kindergarten? is both a poignant commentary on the present state of our children's education and a useful tool to help the adults change it. From California to Chicago to New York, teachers complain that they "teach to the tests, not to the children." Education should be a process, they point out, not a commodity. The pro-standards faction isn't listening. The result? The act of educating is giving way to a reckless method that more resembles job training. The need for change is urgent.

Filled with actual stories from the classroom, What Happened to Kindergarten arms parents and teachers with the knowledge they need to fight this damaging trend. Drawing on her twenty years of classroom experience, author Susan Ohanian documents the grueling tests (some going on for five days), the fear and exhaustion children experience as a result, and how the final evaluations are often dead wrong. She then describes in detail the forces behind the pro-Standards movement, which often place political and business interests above those of the children's education.

Well-informed, highly readable, and often comical, What Happened to Kindergarten educates parents so they can make sure their kids are taught--not merely evaluated.

About the Author

Susan Ohanian spent twenty years teaching grades one through college. She has penned six other books on education and over 300 articles appearing in The Nation, USA Today, Parents, and Parenting, as well as educational journals such as Language Arts and Education Week.

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Product Details

  • Series: Food Products S
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (March 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071383263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071383264
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,194,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Ohanian is a longtime teacher-turned-activist who works against high stakes testing and national standards. Visit her two websites:
susanohanian.org
stopnationalstandards.org

Susan has taught every grade from 2-14 and has strong views about all of them, but her heart remains with 7th and 3rd graders.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Anyone with children will realize that the Golden Age of Education is over. Gone are the halcyon days of elementary school where children were first taught how to be good human beings and live in a civilization, and academics came second. Now, with high-stakes testing and the punitive "No Child Left Behind" initive by the Bush administration (which is more accurately called "No Child Left Untested" by the author), testing has become paramount to just about anything else teachers do or have done in decades past.
Case in point: a school district in Michigan has a 539-page curriculum for PRESCHOOL. Student's ranking in schools and teacher's salaries are directly linked to one or two tests that students take that focus on exclusive and often inappropriate material. Children in elementary schools throughout America are taking tests for days on end, racking up more test-taking hours than potential lawyers taking the Bar Exam. Wild animals used in Hollywood films have more break times in their days than your average schoolchild. Kindergarten curriculum, in the words of many people who run education, should be preparing children for college. In other words, as a nation, we have completely lost our marbles when it comes to testing and too many governmental folk are bowing down at the altar of test-worship.
A local educator recently said, "if I need to know how Little Johnny is doing in school, I go to HIM, not to his Ohio Proficiency Test from 1999." This clear and obvious paradigm for finding out how a child is doing in school has been completely left behind in recent years, and is likely to keep on happening. Ms. Ohanian's book is frighteningly FULL of examples and incidents when educators have gone straight to some standardized test to see how children are performing in school vs.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Susan Allison on July 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
Susan Ohanian's book let me know that I wasn't alone - that mothers all over the country shared my outrage over high-stakes testing - mothers that are acting on their instincts in a big way. She writes - "a growing number of women in this country consider themselves on the brink of a new civil war, a war centering on the control of children. To protect their children these women consider all their time and all their energies sacred to the cause of test resistance. Politicians, take heed" (page 211).
Through the pages of Susan's book - I found the last bit of courage I needed to take a stand against high-stakes high school graduation testing in my state. As I turned the last page, for me, there was no turning back.
I think another American patriot is smiling down on Susan and her book. Just as Thomas Paine called the colonists to revolution in 1776 with his 50-page pamphlet "Common Sense" - Susan calls on parents of American public school children to see standardized test abuse for what it is - child abuse.
We need to put this book on the best-seller lists - one parent at a time. Every copy sold tells the political and corporate establishment that we are taking our schools back. Not until we all know the truth about the high-stakes testing agenda can we have a meaningful national dialogue on this critical issue.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gloria Pipkin on August 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Although the intended audience for What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten? is parents, it's a rich resource for test-defiers from any perspective, a veritable OED - Ohanian Encyclopedic Disquisition - of stories, facts, and figures about standards, the high-stakes tests they've spawned, the corporate honchos who hawk them, the harms they bring to children, and the heroes and heroines who resist them. In his preface to the book, Alfie Kohn calls Susan "defiantly anecdotal," and the book does include her trademark stories of nonstandard children from her own classrooms and from parents and teachers across the country, but it's also packed with outrageous examples from actual standards documents and released items from a number of state tests. Florida elementary school principal (and outspoken opponent of testing abuses) Cathy Kitto wrote me shortly after she finished Recess: "If this book isn't a call to action, nothing ever will be."
Much of the power of the book derives from Susan's omnivorous reading and her ability to make unlikely connections that particularize and illuminate her themes. Within a few paragraphs a reader might find a reference to Maurice Sendak's classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are, a quote from a New York Times columnist, and a document from the American Association for the Child's Right to Play. In a section called "A Lizard Career Path," she relates a story from The Boilerplate Rhino, by her favorite science writer, David Quammen, about a biology grad student conducting repeated speed trials with Mexican lizards, some of which improve their time while others get slower. Susan writes, "Are the people who insist that children must be tested and retested and tested some more listening? Plenty of kids are exhausted.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
We live in an age when researchers, politicians and corporations who have never been teachers themselves are mandating what real teachers in complex classroom environments must do. In detached, aloof and arrogant positions, they ignore the fact that children are wonderfully unique, have not complied to the political rhetoric and will not be standardized.
Ohanian takes us back to what schools and education are really about- the children. Not numbers on spreadsheets or potential fodder for political and financial gain, but children. And she can do so because she is not a drive by researcher or politician but a liflelong teacher. Ohanian knows what it is to teach and she eloquently and often humorously - brings us back to true basics as she cuts through the extremism and the insanity of the glut of standards and testing that are choking the life out of schools.
The forward by Alfie Kohn alone is worth the price of the book. Every parent, teacher and yes... politician... in this country should read Susan Ohanian.
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