Undoing Belittling

Submitted By:
Cricket Mikheev, Sewickley Academy, PA

The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need From Grownups by Erika Christakis
Viking Press, February 9, 2016

Judging from her new book, The Importance of Being Little, the field of early childhood can only hope that by stepping down from teaching, Erika Christakis will find more opportunity to share her thoughts in writing with a broader and more receptive audience. Her book is bold and provocative, and Christakis stands firmly on the side of child development. She argues that adults must respect children and nurture their humanity rather than focusing exclusively on early academic skills. Wide-ranging, accessible, and engaging, this book considers early childhood with a rare level of inquiry and gravitas. Her descriptions of the intellectual rigor required to teach young learners are poignant and compelling. Christakis focuses our attention on fundamental issues in early childhood education and challenges us to question the cultural devaluation of the teachers of our youngest learners. An astute observer of the educational zeitgeist, Christakis bravely unpacks prevailing assumptions and invites meaningful discussion about the intention and potential of early childhood education. As the first line in the book states, "The important thing about young children is that they are powerful." Beginning from there changes everything.

Psychology & Human Development
Teaching Practice