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Swinging Pendulums

Swinging Pendulums

Cautionary Tales for Early Childhood Education


By Carol Garhart Mooney

© 2011


I wanted to attend this session at the NAEYC Conference in Orlando last week, but was needed in our Ooey Gooey, Inc. booth, so I missed it.  But imagine my excitement when, during my obligatory stroll through the exhibit hall – which for the record, and with the exception of about a dozen or so folks, (you know who you are!) makes me vomit – but that’s a story for another day…


Lisa!  Get back on track!  Sorry! So I was standing in the middle of the Redleaf Press vendor booth and saw a book of the same title!  By the same person!  Coincidence?!? I think not!  I bought it immediately upon reading the title to her introduction: “An Obituary for Common Sense.”  I knew we were destined to be BFFs from that point forward.
What I particularly enjoyed about Mooney’s book – and you and your crazy busy lives will too – is that she presents her essays in a format that allows you to bounce around and read the one that strikes your fancy at the moment, or you can read it from front to back in a couple of sittings.


Of special note (for me anyway) is that even though each essay was of a relatively short page length, the depth of topic was amazing.  Don’t let the size of the book fool you!  It might be small in size but it packs a punch!  Additionally, I predict (and recommend!) many a program’s staff meetings being guided by the questions she poses at the end of each essay.


But I digress.  Here, for your reading pleasure (and insatiable curiosity), are some comments:


Out the gate I was amazed at the many common threads between her book and many of my articles and workshop proclamations!!! How affirming it was that I am not the only one thinking about this stuff!  I mean, I realize I’m not the only one, but to see someone else take pen to paper and talk about so many similar topics made me rather excited!


Examples: In my article, “Verbiage Wars,” I too wonder how we can be considered professionals if we continue to bicker about job titles: teacher, educator, babysitter, aide, lead, etc, etc. and what we do: day care, child care, early childhood, preschool, pre-K, etc, etc.  I have also asked how and why the “learning” part of the day can possibly be limited to the morning and have gone on record wondering why many programs fall to pieces after naptime.   I have publically asked why people think they are good at this job because they “love” children and why can’t snack just be a choice!?  Gracious people!  Put a hat on if you’re cold and stop bringing them in because YOU are hot!  (I thought I was listening to myself!)




Mooney offers valid thoughts regarding circle time, and appears to be an advocate for teachers finding their voice and being proactive: know the regulations and rules!  “If you don’t take time to participate, then surrender your right to pontificate!” (page 74)


Mooney takes a stance on common sense and “accidents” that is most refreshing.   “The word accident implies an absence of malice.”  (page 79)  “Children trip over their feet and break bones.  Children fall down several steps and are perfectly fine.  We cannot predict or prevent these curious mishaps we call accidents.” She continues by addressing the topic of “ratios” head on and I’m guessing you will especially enjoy the “get out of jail free days” her state offers.  You might just commit to get something like that implemented in YOUR state! (page 84)


She takes on politically correctness, the changing dynamics of what we call “family,” holidays, discipline, creating a community and saying NO.  Mooney name-drops at the right moment and recommended books that will send us all to the bookstore in short order.


Most importantly, she will encourage you to continue asking, “Why?”


“Offering watered down first grade curricula to four year olds is about as helpful as providing dentures to gummy, grinning, ten-month olds who are late in teething.  We don’t offer remedial teething.  Remedial reading for children who aren’t ready to read is just ludicrous.”  (page 60)


I heard my own voice while reading this book and have a feeling you will too.  And maybe, like me, you will, at least three times, give a joyful, audible, excitable, “YES!” (with optional fist pump) much to the dismay of the man sitting next to you on the plane.


Enjoy this one.  It’s refreshing, affirming, worth your money, and an asset to your shelf.  May it be the revolutionary battle cry for bringing common sense back to our profession we so desperately need.



Shared with you by

Lisa Murphy, B.S.

CEO and Founder, Ooey Gooey, Inc.


somewhere over the Atlantic en route to Munich

November 8, 2011

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