Too much, too soon? – Early learning and the erosion of childhood

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Hong Kong Libraries]On: 11 November 2014, At: 10:03Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Educational Psychology in Practice:theory, research and practice ineducational psychologyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cepp20

    Too much, too soon? Early learningand the erosion of childhoodRuth Dennis aa Bradford MBC , Future House, Bradford , BD4 3EB , UKPublished online: 15 Jan 2013.

    To cite this article: Ruth Dennis (2013) Too much, too soon? Early learning and the erosionof childhood, Educational Psychology in Practice: theory, research and practice in educationalpsychology, 29:1, 99-100, DOI: 10.1080/02667363.2012.759409

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02667363.2012.759409

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  • and interacting on a daily basis, not merely a method for dealing with problems (asper Restorative Justice). Hopkins promotes the idea that young people can be taughtproactively to see things from anothers perspective, consider others feelings,engage in problem solving and find ways forward through collaboration.

    The book is structured into three sections. Part one: Restorative Approachesoutlines the principal ideas and the five themes behind the Restorative Approach.Part two: Making, Maintaining and Repairing Relationships is the main bulk ofthe book and describes how to introduce and embed a Restorative Approach in aschool, using approaches and tools such as Circles, Fostering Social Responsibility,Learning how to speak Restorative and Responding Restoratively when things havegone wrong. Part three: The Restorative Staffroom explores how to promoterestorative relationships between staff. Throughout the book there are photocopiableresources to support teachers, including lesson ideas and sets of cards. In addition,there is a CD-ROM that helpfully contains PDF versions of resources as well assome word documents, so items can be printed straight off.

    Hopkins believes the role of teachers is to ask themselves What do childrenneed? and How do we meet those needs? in relation to behaviour, in the sameway that they consider academic needs. Behaviour mistakes, as they are referredto, are regarded as symptoms of unmet need, and as a message to the teacher thatthe young person needs support with their learning. This no blame approach isrespectful and humane, and focuses on teaching skills rather than punishing, butwill not appeal to those who believe in a zero tolerance approach to behaviour man-agement. This book is a useful resource for schools that are open to a new approachto teaching children and young people the skills they need to navigate the personaland social challenges of school and, indeed, life. As Hopkins states, this approachis more likely to succeed when it is adopted as a whole school ethos, as it can beundermined if introduced alongside a traditional behaviour management system ofrewards and sanctions.

    Recommended for: the service library, teachers.Style: practical, easy to read.

    Pauline ClarkeNottinghamshire County Council

    Nottingham, UKpauline.clarke@nottscc.gov.uk

    2013, Pauline Clarkehttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02667363.2012.759424

    Too much, too soon? Early learning and the erosion of childhood, edited byRichard House, Stroud, Hawthorn Press Early Years Series, 2012, 355 pp., 20.00,ISBN 978-1-907359-02-6

    If you, like others, thought that the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) was auniversally good thing, think again. This book provides a radical reflection on theEYFS and the wider UK approach to early childhood and makes for thought pro-voking reading.

    Educational Psychology in Practice 99

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  • Edited by Richard House, the book boasts substantive contributions fromrenowned educators, parents, policy-makers and concerned citizens. Over 355pages, the authors aim to articulate what is described as toxic childhood. Thisterm, taken variously to mean the adultification and commercialisation of childhood,is explored in depth, including the impact of information technology on young chil-drens lives.

    Divided into four key sections, the book explores the nature of the EYFS, per-spectives on early learning, early years policy and possible ways ahead. The cam-paign group Open EYE (Early Years Education) features prominently throughoutthe book. Open EYE was established in November 2007, in response to fears thatthe EYFS was overly prescriptive, potentially harmful to the development of chil-dren and a breach of the human right of parents to have their children educated inaccordance with their own philosophies. This contributes to the overall tenor of thebook which is both scholarly and passionate.

    Throughout 23 thought provoking chapters, the reader is challenged to recon-sider a number of assumptions which have grown up over the lifetime of the EYFS.For example in Chapter 18 the normalising discourse around EYFS requirements(Ages and Stages) is explored and how this is at odds with the overarching phi-losophy of the Unique Child. Similarly, questions are raised about the value ofconscious learning through the EYFS as opposed to the unconscious learningof play.

    Richard House (p. 260) makes the argument that policy interventions such asthe EYFS are, for the majority of pre-school children, unnecessary. This, however,will sit uncomfortably with the lived experience of many educational psychologists(EPs). For those working with children being brought up in households where edu-cational provision is non-existent, or with children who are placed in poor qualityearly years provision for hours on end, surely the EYFS gives some guarantee thatthey will receive a worthwhile early education? This function of the EYFS passesunder the radar without comment.

    Whilst this criticism may detract from the overall value of the book for EPs,its ethos of questioning and challenging assumptions around early childhood andthe EYFS is a valuable one. Questioning in this way ensures that we do notbecome complacent about what is good practice for young children and that wecontinually query how we can ensure the best provision for all children in thisage group.

    Recommended for: service library may be useful for specialist Early Years EPs(those with a specific interest in the area).Style: theoretical.

    Ruth DennisBradford MBCFuture House

    BradfordBD4 3EB, UK

    ruth.dennis@bradford.gov.uk 2013, Ruth Dennis

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