Illinois Pioneers

Early childhood education pioneer Lilian Katz

7:30 pm Sept. 12, 2013, on WILL-TV (repeated Jan. 2, 2014)

Illinois Pioneers host David Inge interviews Lilian Katz, University of Illinois professor emerita of early childhood education, who is known worldwide for her expertise in child development and teacher education. They talk about how volunteering at her children's cooperative nursery school introduced her to child development. She describes what children should learn in pre-school, how the project approach in early education encourages learning, and what she thinks of standardized testing and computers in the classroom.

Katz grew up in England during World War II and, with her twin sister and thousands of other children, was sent to the countryside to avoid the German blitz. Her family moved to California when she was in high school. After she married and had children, she became interested in early childhood education when she saw the teachers at her own children's nursery school interact with pre-schoolers. "That's how I found out how interesting and challenging it was," Katz said.

Children learn by reasoning, observing, arguing and trying things, Katz said. "When children are investigating something around them in great detail, they get so interested in it because they're naturally nosy," she said.