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TRANSCULTURAL FRIENDSHIP: OUR POLITICAL FUTURE

Chapter Seven: Education in Early Childhood

 Section 4: Small World Program

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Jyoti Rout performing Odissi Dance.

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Small World is the name of an early childhood educational program founded and for two years directed by this author. Its original name was the International Parent-Child Learning Center. The children, aged two to six years of age, came from 15 families representing 15 countries and every continent except Antarctica. This program had many of the elements of a school for the future.

 

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First of all, the environment was patterned along progressive lines. The classroom was large and divided into several learning areas -- a block and toy area, a role-playing area -- a kitchen, dining and dressing room, an art area, a music and reading area (it alternated uses) and a work table area with tools -- wood and nails. Outside was a large enclosed yard designed for a great variety of gross motor activities. The yard was shared by another classroom, so there was opportunity to interact with a second group of children.

 

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The social environment was in large part determined by this author and some graduate and upper class undergraduate students. Children were given considerable freedom to aid in the development of initiative, autonomy and creativity. The general emotional atmosphere was warm and accepting to encourage exploration and risk-taking. Guidelines were set for safety and group management purposes; the reasons for the rules were explained as well as possible considering the developmental level of the children; the rules were firmly enforced, using physical restraint when necessary. A warm atmosphere, with reasonable limits firmly enforced is the recipe White and Lippitt in Autocracy and Democracy determined would develop the qualities compatible with democracy.

 

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 A variety of materials were accessible to the children, though certain materials needed to be requested for safety reasons. This allowed the child a great variety of opportunities to act on the environment, practicing and developing on a concrete plane the cognitive schemes, which would later be integrated into the logical systems of middle childhood, and beyond. These would form the basis of technological competence and facilitate the development of general creative problem solving skills that would help in the solving of the complex societal and moral issues of the world described in chapter three.

 

 

 

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