Director’s Column: All About Bing
By Jeanne W. Lepper, Director
Bing Nursery School Is a Teaching and Research Facility
“Pow! Bam!” says a four-year-old as he readily punches a “Bobo doll” after briefly viewing a short film clip showing other children energetically punching a similar inflated toy. These now famous episodes are part of a series of research studies conducted at Bing Nursery School in the 1960’s by professor Albert Bandura. The studies demonstrated the powerful negative effects of televised violence on children and the ease with which children model aggressive behavior. Bandura’s social learning theory provides the basis of an important part of our practice here at Bing — the use of positive language and examples as teachers help children adjust to group life and develop effective interpersonal skills. In addition, the hundreds of studies conducted at Bing throughout the years continue to contribute greatly to our qualitative and quantitative knowledge of children’s social and intellectual development, here at Bing and around the world.
Bing Nursery School Began as Stanford Village Nursery School
Bandura, currently the David Starr Jordan Professor of Psychology, along with distinguished colleagues at Stanford, received a grant in 1965 from the National Science Foundation to construct the school as a primary research laboratory and site for training and teaching Stanford undergraduates. To meet these academic requirements, an exemplary nursery school program was needed, and being part of a major research university provided the opportunity for an outstanding facility. The spacious new building, which opened at its present location in January 1966, included one-half acre play yards for each classroom and allows a total enrollment of 435 children, in morning or afternoon sessions. It replaced a former “temporary” site at Stanford Village in Menlo Park (originally an Army hospital during WWII and now a part of SRI Inter-national) where the psychology department had founded the school in 1949.
A major gift from Dr. Peter Bing and his mother Anna Bing Arnold completed the funding for the new Bing Nursery School. Helen and Peter Bing have continued to support the school with a lead gift each year to our Scholarship Fund. Most recently a generous gift from Helen Bing helped restore our beautiful grounds and renovate the interior of the school after nearly forty years of constant use.
A Distinguished Teaching Staff Is a Top Priority at Bing Nursery School
A group of compassionate, highly qualified teachers are what first and foremost make Bing a success. Children, parents and Stanford students all learn from these gifted individuals, who work in carefully selected teams based on complementary skills and personalities. Our staff ranges from assistant teachers with bachelor’s degrees, many of whom are recent Stanford graduates who have taken the psychology classes that meet here at Bing, to teachers and head teachers with many years of experience and master’s degrees or doctorates. The director, assistant director and designated head teachers are also lecturers in the Department of Psychology. Our teachers are constantly learning by regularly attending and making presentations at national and international conferences. A graduate degree in the field of early education includes training in working with adults, as well as with children. Many parents tell us that one of the things they appreciate most about Bing is the knowledge they gain from observing and talking with the teachers.
Children Learn Through Play at Bing Nursery School
Young children learn best by being actively involved in the educational process. They develop positive social skills and effective learning strategies under the guidance of teachers who provide an emotionally supportive environment and encourage children to think, explore and experiment. Children are good observers and natural researchers who respond well to open-ended questions and benefit from positive models and suggestions. They also learn from each other, and at Bing we purposely have mixed-age groupings to maximize these opportunities. Through basic materials, such as blocks, clay, easel paints, sand and water, children learn to express their ideas, clarify misconceptions and construct their own knowledge. When children pursue activities that are intrinsically interesting to them, they become engaged in problem solving and develop important cognitive skills. Every day at Bing we see children think and learn as they come up with their own creative and innovative solutions to “problems” that naturally occur as they pursue their interests. That’s our curriculum!
Bing Nursery School Is a Dynamic Setting
At Bing Nursery School children are the center of our universe! We have the pleasure of learning each day from children, students and parents and of sharing that knowledge with each other. Many parents of currently enrolled children are themselves Bing graduates. We are delighted to have a chance to see them as adults for whom the school has become a family tradition. Similarly, we are lucky to have such excellent Stanford students observing in the school and presenting projects in the classrooms as part of their coursework. The school also serves as a model for many professional visitors from around the world each year. We encourage our Stanford students to remember what impressed them about Bing and to become advocates for a suitable environment, sufficient space and appropriately compensated teachers in early education settings as they embark on their own careers. We are all fortunate to be part of this outstanding and lively laboratory school.
As the founding director of the school, Dr. Edith M. Dowley, said, this school was designed to say to children and adults: “Come on in. This school was built just for you!” We say, come on in to the 2004-2005 school year as we all learn and enjoy this time together.