Deborah Stipek Visits Bing
By Jane Farish, Teacher
When I lose perspective, I’m going to put on my jeans and come and hang out at Bing!” So exclaimed Dr. Deborah Stipek, the recently appointed dean of the School of Education, on one of her two visits to Bing during the spring quarter, beginning what she hopes will be a collaboration with the nursery school.
Following a tour of the school, Dr. Stipek discussed her research and advocacy work with the staff. She is a strong advocate for developmentally appropriate practice in both preschool and elementary school and is disturbed that kindergarten teachers are accelerating their curriculum. Dr. Stipek testified in Sacramento against increasing the kindergarten entry age by making the cut-off date earlier. She challenges the assumption that children will score better if they enter at a later age.
Nationally known for her research in motivation, Dr. Stipek studies what makes children want to learn. Her latest focus is investigating motivating environments, or, in her words, “the power of the context for learning.” She has conducted a series of studies on how different contexts influence children’s enthusiasm and learning, comparing teacher-directed preschool programs, including programs using worksheets and flashcards, with more open-ended programs that offer children choices. Finding that the more didactic programs tend to have negative consequences for motivation, she advocates programs such as those at Bing, where “teaching is embedded in natural play activities.”
Dr. Stipek is coauthor of a current bestseller, Motivated Minds: Raising Children to Love Learning (with Kathy Seal). This book, which includes a chapter about “Loving Learning Through Play,” is a guide for parents and teachers on raising enthusiastic lifelong learners.