Dan Gartrell responded to questions and comments during an online event from December 10–14, 2012. Read the questions and his responses below!
Many of you know me from my Guidance Matters column or perhaps from my textbook, A Guidance Approach for the Encouraging Classroom. But the reason NAEYC asked me to do this Q&A is my new NAEYC book, Education for a Civil Society: How Guidance Teaches Young Children Democratic Life Skills. I'd like to share a bit of the story behind this book, which will help frame my answers to the questions you may share.
Back in 1994, when Sue Bredekamp was already famous for her work on developmentally appropriate practice (DAP), I asked if she would write the preface for my then new textbook. Before Sue agreed, she asked me one question: Is your approach integrated with curriculum and methods, or is it an add-on? Her question was significant because if I were writing about classroom discipline that was an add-on, the approach probably would not be addressing emotional and social development as part of curriculum and methods—and the approach likely would not be developmentally appropriate.
The guidance that I write about is integral to the curricula and methods used with young children. It casts full light on DAP's emphasis on each child's healthy emotional and social development. In fact, over the years, the five democratic life skills have crystallized in my mind as the goals of guidance. Everything in education these days seems to have outcomes—observable goals we lead, guide, and nurture children to reach. The democratic life skills, through the practice of classroom guidance, are for me the key social-emotional goals of DAP.
As the subject of this new book, five Guidance Matters columns, and an ebook scheduled for release by NAEYC in 2013, the democratic life skills represent a child's developing capacities to
DLS 1: Find a place as a worthy member of the group and a worthy individual
DLS 2: Express strong emotions in non-hurting ways
DLS 3: Solve problems creatively—independently and in cooperation with others
DLS 4: Accept unique human qualities in others
DLS 5: Think intelligently and ethically
It is on the democratic life skills, and what classroom guidance looks like that fosters these abilities, that I hope we can focus our discussion. I look forward to your questions.
— Dan Gartrell