What to learn?

One of my friends will come and stay in US for one year, as visiting scholar in a well-known university. He asked me to help him to find a free preschool for his 3-year-old boy. His wife and his newborn daughter will come together.

We all regretted that preschool was not free in America. Having passed nearly 8 years in Germany, this friend complained about the high tuition here. In Germany as in France, free or affordable education is one of the most attractive social benefits.

There are some tuition free preschools. However, I suggested him to accept the reality. Although I didn’t know much about the city where he will stay, I noticed that the tuition waiver was for families with financial problems. My friend’s family is not belong to that category.

Having realized the difficulty to cut down the tuition, he began to consider not sending his boy to school. But in my opinion, this choice will make his wife exhausted. On the other hand, his boy will be bored at home.

“After all, children don’t learn much in preschool,” replied my friend.

I was really astonished at these words.

He has been well educated and had stayed long time in Europe. Like most of young professors, he is not satisfied with Chinese traditional education. But when it comes to his son, he holds the same idea as those whom he criticized. They all believe that school education should make obvious achievements in a child’s life. By saying “nothing to learn”, my friend refereed to the excessive freedom. He thought that things should be learned were writing, counting or other testable knowledge or skills.

But for me, Children learn a lot in school, all kinds of skills. They learn to play with others, deal with their small social problems.They have challenges in all kinds of fields. But for many parents, if their child doesn’t repeat or report what he has learned, thy will think automatically that kids in preschool were just killing time. If one day the child returns with the ability to count from one to ten, parents will probably be thrilled and very thankful to teachers.

What a pity if my friend doesn’t appreciate those wasted hours. I suggested him to take time. It’s not too late to make decision when they arrive. “Children in foreign country are too free. They just play,” we heard a lot of this kind of comments in China. It’s true but sometimes it doesn’t mean that children learn nothing here.

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