Term of Award

Summer 2000

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Jane A. Page

Committee Member 1

William M. Reynolds

Committee Member 2

Wendy Chambers

Committee Member 3

Peggy O'Neill


This study asserts that it is our hurried curriculum which too often dishonors childhood, placing children at risk for educational failure beginning in the early elementary grades. This study inquires into the action research of one first grade teacher whose action plan was instrumental in determining whether children were hurried on in a race requiring mastery before they were ready or whether children were given developmentally appropriate experiences along their educational journey, allowing them to become truly literate. The philosophy and motto of The Society for Developmental Education warns that "Childhood Should Be A Journey . . . Not A Race." However, many teachers seem forced daily to ignore this warning by a hurried curriculum and an educational philosophy that "more is better." Teachers are being mandated to employ more standardized programs, cover more instructional objectives, administer more tests, and accomplish more in the name of accountability. But not many schools are allowing more time to let a child be a child—to become literate and learn in ways that are developmentally appropriate.

The objective of this study is to disclose the importance of implementing an educational curriculum which adheres to the principles of developmentally appropriate practice (DAP), which develops the talents of the whole child—cognitively, socially, emotionally, aesthetically, and physically. Such an early educational curriculum identifies student needs, reforms curricular practices to meet these needs, and encourages classroom teachers to use their professional expertise to address these needs, thus, developing and promoting the abilities of all students, including those students historically placed at risk.

When a school embraces an educational philosophy that promotes a hurried curriculum, it is the school which is the failure—not the children. In contrast, adherence to a philosophy that embraces developmentally appropriate pedagogy provides opportunities for development available to all children. Such a philosophy enables a school to fulfill its responsibility to educate all children by implementing child-centered, developmentally appropriate education through an unhurried curriculum. First grade should be fascinating ... not frustrating. Therefore, this yearlong study presents a rendering and an educational criticism of the lived experiences of the children and adults who experienced life in a classroom in which the teacher-as-researcher attempted to forge out an unhurried curriculum under the constraints of the mandated curriculum.


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