Why Now?

While the world is just as vast as it has always been, our connections to people from different cultures have become more commonplace than at any other time in history.

Some will point to the virtual age and the power of the internet to connect us all more closely. Others will look to the data behind fast-advancing populations of people who are changing the makeup of nations.

Children are being brought into this new world and given tools that largely fit a different time. As the world continues to change, so do its opportunities. As parents, guardians, and educators, we must move with that shift.

We must provide tools and resources that are just as vibrant as the colorful world in which we live. We must insist upon greater socialization, for we can no longer operate on islands. Our ability to collaborate effectively with diverse peers has emerged as a key indicator of success in any community.

The following are quotes that we’ve lifted from the news that speak to the need for Tabula Raisa.

For a balanced look into reasons for optimism and pessimism in education, then we suggest this December 2015 year-ending synopsis in The Atlantic: “Can Schools Be Fixed?”

“The United States places well below average compared to other developed countries at a time of increased focus on early learning. Only 41 percent of 3-year-olds and 66 percent of American 4-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education (compared to 74 percent of 3-year-olds and 88 percent of 4-year-olds in the leading countries).”
— Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (November 2015 study)

“The U.S. is the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world. So why has our child well-being fallen to 26th? An alarming number of American children are following low developmental trajectories from the start. They enter adulthood with learning challenges, behavioral issues and even poor physical health. But population health is not all that’s at risk, researchers argue. By under-investing in the vital years of early childhood we are also under-developing America.”
— The Raising of America (November 2015 documentary)

“88 percent of voters agree that access to quality early learning is a need, not a luxury, for all the working families out there doing their best to pay the bills.”
— bipartisan national poll from First Five Years Fund, published U.S. News & World Report (April 2016)

“Recent research has dramatically expanded our
 understanding of early childhood development and 
much of this new knowledge was sorely missing when 
the current education model of most countries was 
designed in the 19th century.”
— Unicef, (May 2015)

“Decades of research show that what children learn 
between birth and 5 years old makes a major difference
 in their ability to perform well academically later in life.”
— LA Times (May 2015)

“We failed to get Congress to actually invest at scale in early childhood education, and the unmet need is stunning. Early childhood education has become a bipartisan issue — but just six Republican governors, no Senate Republicans, and only a few House Republicans have pledged to expand government spending on pre-K.”
— Washington Post (exit interview, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, December 2015)

“According to noted economists and scholars, high-quality 
early education programs have the highest rate of return
 of any social investment, and their research shows that
 the benefits far outweigh program costs.”
— Alabama.com (September 2015)

“For babies and toddlers, it is developmentally appropriate
 for them to think they are the center of the world. They 
are interested primarily in their wants and needs. They
 have an imperfect comprehension of life outside their family
 circle. As they age into preschool and elementary school,
 however, children begin to develop an understanding that the 
world is made up of not just them and their family, but many 
people and many families. Accordingly, as the pure ego shrinks, 
empathy blossoms. Learning to navigate a world where the
 wants and needs of other people should be considered is not 
something kids grasp instantly. Like other crucial life skills, it 
takes time. One way parents and caregivers can encourage kids
 to think outside the confines of their own interests is by sharing multicultural and multigenerational books with them.”
— Citizen-Times (July 2015)

“Multiculturalism is a means of teaching children 
about themselves by exploring different cultures,
whether these cultures are foreign to them, or their own. 
While I am not of the mind we have nothing to learn 
from the model of essentialism, where we learn about the nature of the world from the perspective of the classics
 (mostly dead white men), there is a richness to culture 
and human experience that cannot be tackled
 exclusively by Plato and William Shakespeare. This is 
precisely why multiculturalism has become so
 essential as of late. Literature is a means of 
understanding what it is to be human. It teaches us 
to sympathize with each other above our differences.”
— Jesse Bogner, author of The Egotist (September 2015)

“I think books can help transcend ‘us and them.’ 
Fiction lets us experience another existence as if it was
 our own, because readers bring stories to life in their own 
minds, each in their own way. That’s why reading increases empathy: something neuroscientists have now proved.”
— The Guardian (September 2015)

“We live in an integrated world, one in which we all have a stake in
 each other’s success. We cannot turn back those forces of integration.”
— President Obama, U.N. Speech (September 28, 2015)

“Kids have a lot to gain by learning about other traditions: a
 connection to other cultures and traditions, an enriched world view,
 and the chance to think about their own traditions in deeper ways.”
— Time (September 2015)

“The key to success in the global workplace is being culturally
 fluent. Cultures are linked to other cultures via individuals, and 
individuals’ responses to foreign ideas and the social movements
 that often ensue from those responses can spark cultural change.
 Cultures often change by borrowing or adapting useful ideas or 
practices from a foreign culture.”
— SBS Australia (March 2015)

“When we promote positive experiences with diverse peers and break
down barriers to friendship, children acquire more flexible thinking
 about others, develop a broader repertoire of social skills, and feel more
 comfortable and connected, leading to social and academic benefits. From a recent national survey, nearly all teachers (95 percent) 
believe social and emotional skills are teachable and report that
 social and emotional learning will benefit students from all
 backgrounds, rich or poor (97 percent).”
— Sanford Harmony (June 2015)

“Children’s books are, paradoxically, one of the most 
important forms of writing we have, and the most 
overlooked. They are the first real visual and literary culture
 that an unformed person receives, and this is one reason
 why we tend to remember children’s books as our favorites. 
But they also give a child a lever with which to pry open the
 world. They tell us that life is much bigger and more complex
 than we might have imagined, and that it contains people who
are both like and unlike ourselves. This may seem daunting, 
but a great children’s book portrays an environment in which 
the young are not powerless. Such books confront our deepest 
fears of being lost, hungry or in mortal danger, and they 
reinforce a child’s inner ability to cope with this fearfulness
 and to discover where true strength lies.”
— The Independent (June 2015)

“On the 150 anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, we’re reminded that being exposed to the world has a tremendous impact on the child’s visual, auditory, as well as cognitive growth. Although these advantages are not unknown to parents and guardians, most people are apprehensive about sending their children outside, thanks to the rampant ills of society. Counseling and safety measures should be ensured by educational institutions to make sure children go out more often.”
The Times of India (November 2015)

“Kindergartners who share, cooperate, and are helpful are
 more likely to have a college degree and a job 20 years
 later than children who lack those social skills, according
 to a new study from Pennsylvania State University. 
Kids who get along well with others also are less likely to have substance-abuse problems and run-ins with the law.
 The research, which involved tracking nearly 800 students 
for two decades, suggests that specific social-emotional skills 
among young children can be powerful predictors for
 success later in life.”
— American Journal of Public Health study
covered by The Washington Post (July 2015)

“Experiences in early childhood, from birth on, have 
been shown to impact development across the life
span. To enhance quality of life, maximize success 
for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and
 protect our youth’s future, we must invest in quality
 education for children ages 0-5.”
— Santa Monica Daily Press (May 2015)

“The United Nations has now included early childhood development (ECD) into its global development agenda, promising to recognize early, equitable and smart 
investment to promote both the education and health
 of the world’s youngest learners. For the 50 million 
children growing up in conflict — never mind the many 
more being raised in poverty — global support for
 supporting early development is most important. 
Although ECD comes under the new education goal, 
it provides a natural link to other goals — helping reduce
 poverty, improve health and nutrition, promote women
 and girls’ equality, and reduce violence. 
We need to build on this momentum.”
— Education World (October 2015)

“Brain development is most intense during early childhood, with nearly
 1,000 neural connections happening every second. These early synaptic connections form the basis of a child’s health and well-being, including
 the lifelong capacity to learn, adapt to change, and handle adversity.”
— UNICEF (September 2015)

“Never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen the situation we find ourselves in today where education policies that do not reflect what we know about how young children learn could be mandated and followed. We have decades of research in child development and neuroscience that tell us that young children learn actively — they have to move, use their senses, get their hands on things, interact with other kids and teachers, create, invent. But in this twisted time, young children starting public pre-K at the age of four are expected to learn through ‘rigorous instruction.”
— Charlotte Observer (December 2015)
commentary of Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Professor Emerita of Education of Lesley University and a renowned early childhood development expert

“More and more evidence tells us that investing in the education of
 America’s young people needs to begin earlier in their lives—stimulating
 socialization and a desire to learn, and dramatically improving their
 long-term life prospects. The return per dollar spent on early childhood
 education is among the most productive human-capital investments 
possible, yet as a society we’re not making enough of those investments.
 The presidential candidates of both parties would do well to make
 this a defining issue of the election — encouraging governments 
and the private sector to cooperate in boosting Pre-K learning programs. Ramping up investments in early childhood education has recently
 emerged as a rare cause backed on both sides of the political aisle.”
— Forbes (September 2015)

“There is a false assumption that by age 5,
 children leave early childhood behind. That leads educators to make misguided attempts to make kindergarten and early grade classrooms resemble those for older students. Research on children’s development across the ages of 5 through 8 
show that the days of guided play, exploration, 
read-alouds, and socialization activities should
 not cease. Kids need to be able to learn in small 
groups and through hands-on participation.”
Education Central (May 2015 study)

“Reading together increases children’s literacy skills.
 Children who love reading do better at school in all subjects. 
If a parent reads to their children every day, they will be
almost 12 months ahead of their age group when they start 
school. Even reading to them three to five times a week 
gives them a six-month head start over those
 who are read to less often.”
— The Guardian (June 2015)

“Early childhood education (ECE) programs offer a
promising mechanism for preventing early externalizing
 behavior problems and later antisocial behavior. Programs 
that more intensively targeted children’s social and emotional
 development were associated with additional significant 
reductions in externalizing behavior problems.”
— Science Direct (June 2015 study)

based on work by the Society for the Study of School Psychology

“In many schools, formal education now starts at 
age 4 or 5. Without this early start, the thinking goes,
 kids risk falling behind and may never catch up.
 The idea seems obvious: starting sooner means 
learning more, the early bird catches the worm. However, this trend shows a profound misunderstanding of how children learn. Our youngest 
students are floundering to comprehend instruction (like) sit at a table or copy letters. They don’t know what
 they’re doing. It’s heart-breaking.”
New York Times, “Let the Kids Learn Through Play” (May 2015)

“Young children learn quickly and are often filled
 with curiosity about the world around them.
 Schools and daycare centers have a unique 
opportunity to guide students and families 
toward a lifetime filled with a love for learning. Children learn many things through play. When two 
four-year-olds work together on a project, they
 are learning different perspectives about how to
 organize things, planting the seeds for critical
 thinking. The learning that happens through play
 cannot be replaced by any other learning.
 It is self-directed, creative, and authentic.”
— Study.com (May 2015)

“The educational system has gone too far in trying to protect children 
from firsthand experiences. We are very careful about not letting them 
walk too far away from our front door and unfortunately if young people
 can’t get excitement and adventure in ways which we consider to be 
acceptable to society, they will get them in ways which are unacceptable
 to society. In recent years, the media had played a role in over-
dramatizing the actual danger young children are exposed to today.”
— The Telegraph (June 2015)

T”he world as classroom provides an abundance of lesson plans.
 Start by exploring key concepts around the house. From using
 measuring cups in the kitchen to identifying shapes in the 
playroom, there are lessons to be learned in every room.”
— Reporter-Times (July 2015)

“Where do we learn grit, self-control and determination? Certainly
 we can learn it from our parents, and perhaps we are born with
 a certain personality that makes it easier or more difficult to gain the
 skills. I would also contend that grit, determination, and certainly 
self-control are all skills learned in preschool.”
— Springfield News-Leader (June 2015)

“Long before touch screens, virtual reality games, and hardware
 toys dominated kids’ entertainment, it was just dolls in make-believe
 fantasy worlds. Dolls have been witnessing a resurgence recently, 
with startups like Dumya and Theradolls focusing on bringing
 back the doll experience to make a difference in children’s lives.”
— Wamda (July 2015)

“For a child, dolls have been a way to escape from the surrounding 
world and create a fantasy or dream scenario by dressing them up.”
— The Courier-Journal (July 2015)

“People are stressed and anxious all the time. 
Coloring is a way to calm down and unwind 
at the end of the day. But art therapy is not the only reason coloring has taken off. 
As hobbies go, coloring books are incredibly simple: portable, 
easy to pick up and put down, old-school analog pursuits with
 no batteries or messages, no calorie-counting, skill-building,
 classes, or scores. The finished product is perfect for 
minimalists. Pottery and paintings demand shelf and
 wall space, knitted scarves cry out to be worn or bestowed
 as gifts, but a colored-in page takes up almost no space 
at all (unless you frame it).”
— New York Post (July 2015)

“Why is children’s poetry so invisible? 
Children respond enthusiastically when 
it’s read to them. They love the wordplay,
 rhythms and rhymes. They write their
 own fantastic poems in workshops.”
— The Guardian (March 2015)

“There is no doubt for me, that if you can have it, 
you want the stuff where people have taken 
their time, paid attention to, and personally care 
about how it was created. It is very important to
 me that these kinds of crafts continue into the
 future and we value artisans who make
 the decision to choose quality over quantity.”
— Forbes (February 2015)
commentary from Anthony Bourdain

“Craft, as both objects and process, appeals in this moment of
 increasing environmental and labor awareness as an ethical 
alternative to mass-production. Craft also speaks to deep human 
connections to, and interest in, making and the handmade as 
offering something seemingly authentic in a seemingly inauthentic
 world. Crafts demonstrate that we know our place in the world 
and are committed to make something from it.”
— The Conversation, Australia (July 2015)