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[Xmca-l] Re: Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word

On 27 March 2014 13:02, Ana Marjanovic-Shane <anamshane@gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear all,
> From Yesterday's New York Times: new ways to implement the Bernstein's
> based (language +) deficit based educational approach to minority, low
> income and immigrant families. Is it educational, or Orwellian?  What do
> you think?

> Ana
It depends on all those epiphenomenal things that aren't mentioned in the
article. ;)

Its a bit funny that there's a discussion page on the NYTimes site, but
that its more interesting to discuss it here.  Where'd that start?  :)


> http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/us/trying-to-close-a-knowledge-gap-word-by-word.html?emc=eta1&_r=0
> Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word
> PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Amid a political push for government-funded preschool
> for 4-year-olds, a growing number of experts fear that such programs
> actually start too late for the children most at risk. That is why Deisy
> Ixcuna-González, the 16-month-old daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, is
> wearing a tiny recorder that captures every word she hears and utters
> inside her family's cramped apartment one day a week.
> Recent research shows that brain development is buoyed by continuous
> interaction with parents and caregivers from birth, and that even before
> age 2, the children of the wealthy know more words than do those of the
> poor. So the recorder acts as a tool for instructing Deisy's parents on how
> to turn even a visit to the kitchen into a language lesson. It is part of
> an ambitious campaign, known as Providence Talks, that is aimed at the
> city's poorest residents and intended to reduce the knowledge gap long
> before school starts. It is among a number of such efforts being undertaken
> throughout the country.
> Photo
> María González, left, a participant in Providence Talks, with images of
> emotions that are intended to encourage dialogue with her 16-month-old
> daughter. Credit Katherine Taylor for The New York Times
> "When she grabs your hand and brings you to the refrigerator and points to
> the cabinet, that is an opportunity for you to say, 'Deisy, are you hungry?
> You want cereal? Let's go look for the cereal,' " Stephanie Taveras, a
> Providence Talks home visitor who also works with Early Head Start, told
> Deisy's mother in Spanish. "You do the responding for her now until she has
> the vocabulary, and she will be hearing you."
> Educators say that many parents, especially among the poor and immigrants,
> do not know that talking, as well as reading, singing and playing with
> their young children, is important. "I've had young moms say, 'I didn't
> know I was supposed to talk to my baby until they could say words and talk
> to me,' " said Susan Landry, director of the Children's Learning Institute
> at the University of Texas in Houston, which has developed a home visiting
> program similar to the one here in Providence.
> Close to a quarter of all American children now live in poverty. More than
> half of all children age 2 and under are cared for during the day by a
> parent or relative, according to a McCormick Foundation analysis of census
> data.
> To reach those children, educators say they need to focus their efforts on
> the home.
> "In the same way that we say you should feed your child, brush their
> teeth, you should be stimulating their brain by talking, singing and
> reading to them," said Ann O'Leary, the director of Too Small to Fail, an
> initiative aimed at closing the word gap across the country. "We want to
> move the needle from this being an optional activity to a must-do activity."
> Too Small to Fail, a joint effort of the nonprofit Next Generation and the
> Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, chose Latino children as its
> initial focus because more of them live in poverty than do children of any
> other racial or ethnic group. They are also more likely to be cared for at
> home by a relative during the day than are either white or African-American
> children. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the co-founder of Too Small to Fail,
> which has raised $10 million so far.
> Photo
> The Lena recording device can be inserted into a vest worn by the child.
> Credit Katherine Taylor for The New York Times
> Last month, Too Small To Fail started an advertising campaign in
> conjunction with Univision, the Spanish-language television network,
> featuring Bárbara Bermudo, the host of a popular afternoon program. In one
> ad, Ms. Bermudo appears with her young daughters in a pink-infused
> playroom, baking in the kitchen and then reading them a book.
> "Taking fifteen minutes a day to communicate with them while you're
> preparing dinner or reading to them at bedtime are the most valuable
> minutes for developing their vocabulary skills and creating a strong
> foundation for their academic success," Ms. Bermudo tells viewers.
> Ms. O'Leary said Too Small to Fail would experiment with a variety of
> media messages in different cities. Starting later this spring, slogans
> like "Words bring your child's mind to life," "Talking is teaching" and
> "Feed me words" will appear on billboards, grocery carts and buses in
> low-income neighborhoods in Tulsa, Okla. The goal, Ms. O'Leary said, is to
> emulate the success of other public information campaigns such as those
> intended to reduce crib deaths by persuading parents to put their babies to
> sleep on their backs.
> As in Providence, several groups around the country -- some of longstanding
> tenure -- are building home visiting programs and workshops to help parents
> learn not only that they should talk, but how to do so.
> "Every parent can talk," said Dr. Dana Suskind, a pediatric surgeon at the
> University of Chicago who founded the Thirty Million Words Initiative,
> which oversees home visiting programs and public information campaigns.
> "It's the most empowering thing," said Dr. Suskind, who is securing
> funding for a randomized trial of a home-based curriculum intended to teach
> parents how they should talk with their children and why.
> Photo
> Deisy's mother, María González, spoke with with Stephanie Taveras, a
> Providence Talks home visitor. Credit Katherine Taylor for The New York
> Times
> Advocates for the poor say that improving the long-term academic prospects
> of disadvantaged children, much less their chance of escaping poverty, is a
> much more complicated proposition than some of these programs might suggest.
> "When Hillary Clinton runs around trying to close the word gap, it's like
> fine, vocabulary is good," said Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and
> public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. "But there is a
> deeper commitment to literacy and conversation around the dinner table and
> talking to kids about ideas and political controversies that is the more
> colorful fabric of literacy and conversation."
> Here in Providence, where more than 85 percent of public school students
> are eligible for federally subsidized lunches and two-thirds of public
> school kindergartners are behind in recognizing basic language sounds or
> identifying letters in print, officials see Providence Talks as just one
> part of a larger educational strategy. It is being funded by a $5 million
> grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, and officials hope that they can
> eventually secure some public funding.
> "The more effective we can show that it is, the higher the possibility
> that you can get government funding for it," said Angel Taveras,
> Providence's first Latino mayor and a graduate of Head Start.
> Continue reading the main story
> Recent Comments
> ecolecon
> 17 hours ago
> "So the recorder acts as a tool for instructing Deisy's parents on how to
> turn even a visit to the kitchen into a language lesson."This...
> Ecojustice James
> 17 hours ago
> Technology is helpful, so too having literacy materials around, and
> understanding about their value can come through mentoring and sharing...
> manoflamancha
> 17 hours ago
> Poverty is not the problem, rather poor parents. To increase kids learning
> curve....you have to motivate Americans parents to learn how to...
> See All Comments
> On a chilly afternoon this month, Ms. Taveras (who is not related to the
> mayor) sat down with Deisy's parents. María González, who has a third-grade
> education and spoke her native K'iche' when she emigrated from Guatemala
> seven years ago, reviewed a bar chart that showed how many words she and
> her husband, Rafael Ixcuna, who packs fruit at a factory in the city, had
> spoken to Deisy on a day the previous week.
> To help give parents feedback and provide data for researchers, the home
> visitors give each family -- all of whom volunteered to participate -- a tiny
> recording device, known as a Lena, that can be inserted into a vest worn by
> the child. The recorders distinguish between words overheard from
> television or other electronics and live human conversations. Computer
> software then analyzes the numbers of words spoken.
> Photo
> Angel Taveras, the mayor of Providence, where most public school
> kindergartners are considered behind in language skills. Credit Katherine
> Taylor for The New York Times
> Privacy advocates and the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil
> Liberties Union raised concerns about the recordings. In response,
> Providence officials disabled playback functions on the devices and
> promised that home visitors and others would never be able to listen to the
> actual conversations. The recordings are immediately erased once they are
> uploaded for word-count analysis.
> Researchers say such recordings will help them track results. In the short
> term, scholars will evaluate whether the home visits prompt parents to talk
> more. In the longer term, they will be looking for improvements in future
> academic performance.
> Child advocates say programs need to convey the subtlety of communication
> as well as simply trying to bolster word counts. "It's not just saying,
> 'You need to say this amount of words to your kids every day and then
> they're going to be smart and successful,' " said Claire Lerner, director
> of parenting resources at Zero to Three, a nonprofit group that promotes
> healthy development in the early years.
> "We don't want parents talking at babies," Ms. Lerner said. "We want
> parents talking with babies."
> In addition to tracking word counts, the Lena device can detect when
> parents and caregivers wait for -- and respond to -- the verbal utterances of
> their children.
> On the visit last week, Ms. Taveras showed Ms. González how much she and
> Mr. Ixcuna had increased such "conversational turns" with Deisy.
> Ms. González nodded, determined. "The next one will be even higher," she
> said.
Status: O