May 30, 2018

NPR showcases Sharon Wolf's work to transform Ghana’s preschools

In Ghana’s capital city of Accra, roughly 80 percent of children are enrolled in preschool by age three – but tests show that traditional call-and-response teaching, rote memorization, and corporal punishment do not lead to much learning.

Dr. Sharon Wolf
This is where Penn GSE developmental psychologist Sharon Wolf comes in – she has been deeply involved in the country’s efforts to get children into preschool as a way of combating poverty. A recent episode of the NPR series “How to Raise a Human” highlights Wolf’s work with in-service preschool teachers in Ghana as she helps them transform from authoritarian drill masters into educators emphasizing play-based and child-centered instruction.

 Wolf tells NPR that the goal is “really trying to draw out children’s ability to think and reason” – the polar opposite of Ghana’s traditional methods. While studies show that these instructional techniques could be the fix for Ghana’s preschools, one significant challenge stands in the way: Ghanaian parents’ resistance to this new approach to education.