The most important period of development and character formation in anybody’s life is his/her childhood. The school and the curriculum through which the child passes during his kindergarten years play a vital role in the development of his faculties and talents for preparing him for his future life. The Bank Street Curriculum was developed keeping in mind that children are very active learners. They are experimenters, explorers, artists and active learners in their own way. They learn at their own pace, taking their own time to learn. The curriculum is based on history, economics, history and even geography, the different branches of social studies (Harmon, & Jones, 2005). The curriculum provides a theoretical approach for planning and carrying out work with young children.
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In 1916, when Lucy Sprague Mitchell and friends felt that the curriculum for children was inadequate and the public education system was not serving the children well, they started the Bureau of Educational Experiments as part of collaboration among teachers. As prevalent in those times, children were using rote learning methods of study. Lucy Sprague found a way for the constructive blending of the progressive movement of the twentieth century with the works of John Dewey and the formulations of Edna Shapiro and Barbara Biber. The small group also took into confidence researchers, a social worker and a pediatrician. They had the basic insight that children’s learning and their emotional lives were inseparable. John Dewey influenced the team to create a school that would deal with the ideals of a democratic community. She believed that children were blessed with an intense desire to learn and if channeled properly the desire would continue to burn until the end of a person’s life. Thus was born the developmental-interaction approach to the process of learning. This approach stresses the social, intellectual and emotional components of a child in the facilitation of learning. This is juxtaposed with the different developmental stages of a child and his active experimental interaction with the society. With this in mind they set out to experiment and out of this experiment came the Harriet Johnson Nursery School, for children of age three to five. The name was given after a colleague who was among the team. From these humble beginnings, Bank Street grew, creating materials for and about children in many subjects. They even influenced the design and practice of national educational programs like the Head Start and Follow Through. To “keep one ever a learner” was what Lucy Sprague believed in. The Bank Street Curriculum is an outcome of that strong belief (Educational Philosophy. 2009).
Curriculum-Planning and Implementation
Curriculum planning at Bank Street involves philosophy of both colleges and Head Start positive outcomes framework. This started basically as a research establishment but later on when the need for subjects was felt, students for teaching was incorporated. This is developed by a close understanding of the children in their study environment. Every day children are taught to make connections between home and school. They are also studied for the experience of separations between home and school. The approach stresses the role of teachers as facilitators of learning. In place of the teacher-centered classrooms till then, Bank Street curriculum presented a child-centered classroom. Children understand that they have similarities as well as dissimilarities with others in the diversely rich classrooms. Even teachers are carefully picked from ethnically different backgrounds to teach children about diversity. Teachers build on their experience and their expertise is taken into the classrooms (Curriculum.2009). As a result of viewing the curriculum as an interaction of children with their total environment the parents of each child are also given specific roles in the development of the curriculum. So parents are also partners in the growth and development of the children at Head start. For parent orientation, Bank Street conducts several workshops, with topics like Parent Orientation, Curriculum Night, Kindergarten Informational Fair, Learning through Play Workshop and Conflict Resolution. The more parents are close to the institution, the more workshops are provided. This goes a great way towards shaping the curriculum. They even substitute for teachers after submitting necessary documents and attending training programs (Parent Involvement.2009).
Even materials are provided according to the needs of the developmental stage of the children. If a first grader needs only a single color crayon, the need of a second-grade child may be for a set of crayons. The necessary materials provide the necessary motivation for the student. How the teacher plans the materials and the gradation of experience is of primary importance in the arts section. Children require to produce sample books, charts etc in the literary section. They even invent spelling and write simple stories using these words. Teachers are careful that children do not destroy the given materials but try to develop the cognitive capability of the student about the medium. Preschoolers use different kinds of mathematical materials, pegs, pegboards, pattern blocks, woodworking materials etc. Children learn about shapes, sizes and colors from the various materials used for their play. They encounter measurements and volume when they compare heights and measure sand and water. Activities that include songs and other rhythmic movements are provided. Drums, tambourines, xylophones, maracas and other non-pitched musical instruments are also given to the children. Scientific thinking is promoted and children are encouraged to think in terms of cause and effect. They understand and come to respect nature (Curriculum.2009). Classroom structure is decided to take into account the developmental stage of the students. Each subject sets stage or developmental stages of goals. A more general stage would be the lower school, the middle school and the upper school. Though of great difference in the matter of subjects, the use of contained classrooms is still kept at the lower levels (Mitchell, 2009).
There could be no doubt about the implementation in the need for space. The space is so pronounced that children have wonderful access to the materials. A quiet space is provided for reading and the library. Materials for art and instruments for music are at hand. The child’s handiwork is displayed at the eye level of the child. The classroom itself is a standing proof of the importance of arts and sciences in the different stages of development of the child. Children go about their work and talk freely. Parents come and go as they please. The role of the teacher and the assistant is more than just instructional. It is more critical. Aspects like organizing chores, caring for pets and plants are presented in a planned environment in the classroom. Then it is elaborated to the wide world in such a way that the child can see the relationship. The adults by way of relevant field trips emphasize the wide range of the relevance of these concepts. Gradually the themes extend beyond time and space to other lands and cultures (Bowman, 2009).
Child is the center of activity, in each learning step involved. He/she is read to daily. He formulates ideas and questions, and learns to communicate meaningfully with others. Language is not learned but acquired as immediately useful tool. The adults utilize the child’s need for play, by integrating it into the child’s curriculum. Play is the work of the child. When older, the concept of play changes to dramatic expression. It derives from the fact that opportunity to recreate experiences is a need for the child. The day moves along with scheduled programs, which are understood by each individual in the class. Flexibility helps to build over the missed links, if any. The children work in groups but individual development is not hindered. Transition from an activity to another is simple due to child’s awareness of individual responsibility. The learning process of the classroom directs the child towards acceptable social behavior. The presence of parents enriches the atmosphere of the classroom. They enhance the learning process through their experience of the school and knowledge of the child’s behavior patterns. Children are in the democratic model of the world, where they consider alternatives and learn to take decisions. Children go through this process as a small model of the society and do not come together as a whole class unless demanded by the activity at hand (Bowman, 2009).
Teachers give homework and every child is assessed thoroughly. Teachers utilize every instance for developing the child’s questioning and exploration capacity. The child is evaluated in all the developmental stages of the learning process. He passes from one stage to the other via the evaluation process done by the teacher. His overall performance is assessed beyond the academic or content-based curriculum. Talents in children vary to a great extent. Even the theory of multiple intelligence may be taken as proof of the way children are assessed to their different talents. How the child reacts to the evaluation conducted by the teacher will clearly be proof of the effectiveness of the method. Care is taken not to be ambiguous while questioning the child in a random fashion(Educational Philosophy. 2009).
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The approach of the curriculum is mainly different from the fact that it is child-centered and based on the developmental interaction approach. The main difference between Bank Street and Montessori approaches is the gradation of tasks given to children. The Montessori approach gives importance to parents but not so much as the Bank street approach. The teachers are center figures in Montessori system. Nevertheless, not so in the other. They are facilitators. Parents are allowed to come and go as they please. Both the systems seek a diverse student body. But in Bank Street system even teachers are selected to be from diverse backgrounds (Robledo. 2009). The Reggio Emilia approach mainly differs in the fact that group work is not given any preference at all. The whole group work is neglected and children grow up as separate islands. This does not happen in Bank Street approach. Children mainly learn in small groups and come to the whole class only when required by an activity (Robledo. 2009). Compared with traditional method schools fewer topics are chosen in the bank street curriculum schools, but preference is given for depth and understanding. Learning is a social process as a solitary one. Children learn to socialize and respect each other’s needs as well as their own (Educational Philosophy. 2009).
The developmental stages of the child are given more importance and content teaching is integrated along with it. Every child is given equipment and materials according to the development stage of the child. Special care is devoted by the teacher in the grading of the materials to be used by the child. The curriculum itself is child centered and contributes to the development of all the faculties and talents inherent in a child. By and by, Bank Street has used strength and delicacy in a changing world to revolutionize the concept of individual coaching to strengthen the future generation of the country (Educational Philosophy. 2009).
Bowman, G.(2009). Teaching and Learning in a Bank Street Classroom. Web.
Curriculum: Educational Philosophy. (2009). Web.
Curricullum: Educational Philosophy. (2009). Web.
Curriculum. (2009). Web.
Harmon, D.A. & Jones, T.S. (2005).Elementary education: a reference handbook. California: ABC-CLIO. Curriculum: Educationa.
Mitchell, L.S.(2009). The Bank Street School for Children Curriculum Guide. Web.
Parent Involvement.(2009). Web.
Robledo. S.J. (2009). The top preschool programs and how they differ. Web.
Robledo. S.J. (2009). The top preschool programs and how they differ: Highlights. Web.