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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Chapter 1 experiences without providing any unifying theme, continu- ity, or purpose. The situation described earlier of the teacher who thought the child pretending to be a cat was having fun and therefore learning is an example of a mis-educative expe- rience. Dewey thought that rather than saying, “The children will enjoy this,” teachers need to ask the following questions when they plan activities for children: n How does this expand on what these children already know? n How will this activity help this child grow? n What skills are being developed? n How will this activity help these children know more about their world? n How does this activity prepare these children to live more fully? From Dewey’s perspective, an experience can only be called educational if it meets these criteria: n It is based on the children’s interests and grows out of their existing knowledge and experience. n It supports the children’s development. n It helps the children develop new skills. n It adds to the children’s understanding of their world. n It prepares the children to live more fully. How can early childhood teachers be guided by Dewey’s criteria for educational experiences? Do not accept “It’s fun” as a justification for curriculum, but ask how an activity will support children’s development and learning. Again, it is not enough for an activity to be “hands on”; it must be “minds on” as well. And teachers must invest in organization and documentation. 26 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL