How early in a child’s education does indoctrination begin? “Of course, there are many resources to help initiate conversations and help frame our students’ thinking,” A. J. Jennings writes in the Summer 2015 issue of the periodical Rethinking Schools. “For example, we read Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.”
“This charming picture book is based on a true story of two male penguins in the Central Park Zoo.” Jennings teaches at the Park West Cooperative Nursery School in Chicago, “a play-based preschool on Chicago’s North Side.”
“The country’s debate on gay marriage had reached the 4- and 5-year-olds in my class,” Jennings writes. What’s next?
“As this deeply layered conversation moved on, many points of view were stated, more questions were posed, and the children were able to articulate what they thought,” Jennings writes of one class discussion. “I made a mental note to myself about topics to revisit, including finding a way to talk about inherited traits and Jane’s ideas about the dangers of incest.”
“There’s always a new challenge!” How to meet them?
“As teachers, through careful listening, we can identify the issues that kids in our classrooms are grappling with,” Jennings explains. “And through conversation, we can model nonjudgmental behavior and challenge binary thinking.”
“This is especially significant in early childhood education.” No doubt.