Universal preschool has the potential to close the knowledge
gap—but only if we consider how to best teach preschoolers.
Susan B. Neuman
Stakes were low but passions were high as 4-year-olds discovered whale blubber and learned about marine mammals in a preschool
classroom I recently visited.
“That’s gooey,” Tony cried, placing
his hands in blubber-lined mittens.
“This is what the animal uses to
keep warm and survive the cold
water temperatures,” Tony’s teacher
explained. Whipping out detailed pic-
tures, she added, “Blubber acts as an
insulator. It holds in the warm-blooded
mammals’ body heat, even when they
are swimming in water as cold as 40
Stakes may have been low in this
marine mammal exploration, but they’re
high in terms of the public’s expecta-
tions of preschools. Political leaders are
gambling that early education will close
© ERIC GAY/AP/CORBIS