Conclusion & References   Dispositions: Definitions and Implications for Early Childhood Practice


It seems reasonable to assume that dispositions are always more or less influenced by experiences in preschool programs, whether by intention or by default. Much research is needed to determine which dispositions merit attention, and whether dispositions of a general or specific focus should be addressed by educational goals. If the desirable dispositions listed among the goals are very specific, the list is likely to become unmanageably long. For example, to associate reading skills with the disposition to a reader, and listening skills with the disposition to be a listener, then we may end up with a list of dispositions as long as any list of specific skills! However, if dispositional goals are too general, they become too difficult to observe and therefore to assess. Ideally, educational goals should include dispositions that strike an optimal balance between generality and specificity.

In the interim, while questions of which dispositions are desirable and dispositions of what level of specificity should be included in goals are addressed, it seems timely to include dispositions among important outcomes of education at every level. By placing dispositions in the list of educational goals we are likely to pay more deliberate attention to ways in which desirable ones can be strengthened, and undesirable ones can be weakened. For the moment I suggest that the most important disposition to be listed in educational goals is the disposition to go on learning. Any educational approach that undermines that disposition is miseducation.


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