Brotherly love and fairness in education

Maria Montessori, the distinguished early childhood educator, said, “Early childhood education is the key to the betterment of society.” I was contemplating this while reading a Christian Science Monitor article highlighting a New Hampshire school district seen as a model of providing full-day kindergarten to schools with a majority low-income population (“On full-day kindergarten, policies still lag behind the promise,” August 15, 2018). The article pointed out that this provision helps enrollees start first grade on par academically with wealthier classmates, thus putting them on track to become productive citizens.

This kind of compassionate care for students who are most in need of help brings to thought the biblical image of a loving God who meets our needs even in the most desperate circumstances. The book of Deuteronomy describes God’s redeeming love and mercy this way: “He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye” (32:10).

Some years ago, I was the head of an early childhood department at a small private school system on an island in the Caribbean. The country had recently gained independence from colonial rule, and as was typical of private schools at the time, the majority of the students were from privileged white expatriate homes and were well prepared for kindergarten. Many of the native black children were not advantaged economically, nor were they as well prepared academically. The school’s response had been to “stream” the children based on their abilities, which in effect meant they were grouped primarily based on their race. It also meant that the native students received a less rigorous and academically stimulating education.

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From Teens
Seeing clearly
March 11, 2019

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