Thursday, April 9, 2009

Friday Keynote: Dr. Jean Feldman

I know lots of people are Dr. Jean fans but this was my first exposure to her. She sings songs, cheers, and fingerplays for young children that are developmentally appropriate.

I confess to not really enjoying her all that much (please don't hate me!). I didn't care for her ultra-cutesy approach and I know I couldn't reproduce it for my kids in the classroom. While I don't doubt that plenty of kids would like her, I also know that there are kids who can spot cutesy from a mile away and dislike it. She liked to say things like, "Smart people are standing" to get us to stand up. But what about the person who's just plain tired and doesn't feel like standing? Is that person stupid?

There is no doubting her enthusiasm, thoughtful approach to choosing material, and research references (though she never actually told us who she was referencing). She clearly loves kids and wants what's best for them.

I had a particular beef with the number of times she mentioned candy and/or fast food in her songs. Yes, I know that these are things that children have in their lives, but don't we want to expose them to something a little grander and better for them? She explained that after the fast food song (which another teacher told me later wasn't actually Dr. Jean's but was from someone else) you can have a talk with the children about healthy eating habits. I think that would suck the life out of the only real reason to sing that song, which is for fun.

On the flip side, I did see real benefit to the karate alphabet. I know a few first graders who would love that.

Of the four of us from my program who were at the conference on Friday, I was the only one who could stand it long enough to stay and I only lasted until about 90% of the way through. The other three teachers hated it so much they left after only a few songs. I honestly can't say I blame them. I know the Tooty Ta is famous and will probably be forever among children's songs, but I know of other people who do it with less cute.

Again, please don't hate me for not liking Dr. Jean!

Dr. Jean can be found at her website:, where she's posted lots of free stuff. She also gave us another reference,, which has lessons and materials for teachers.

No comments:

Post a Comment