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

There are several important (to me) issues being raised in this "thread"
(more like a rope!).

One is the view of Basil Bernstein as interpreted in the 1960's and as
interpreted in the present circumstances, which include several decades of
work by Hasan, Daniels, and others, to absolve Bernstein of the sin of
proposing a deep seated psychological deficit as a result of a
language/culture deficit. Somewhere there is a review of Class & Codes that
Sylvia Scribner and I wrote dating back into the early-mid 1970's. I will
try to retrieve it. If anyone has access to it from earlier discussions of
this topic, please post. I cannot find it.

The second is the Orwellian aspect of the research. I take 1984 to be the
null hypothesis that we keep struggling to show is NOT the case, however
close we might come to being in that situation. Thank Polysemy and the
necessary creativity of language for the fact that Newspeak is not a
possible human language. This problem is ubiquitous (as microsoft and
google read this message should they care to).

The third problem is an updated version of the anti-poverty programs of the
'60's and 70's that sent social workers into the homes of poor people with
books and toys and tried to teach them how to interact like middle class
mothers with their children. The cultural imperialism/classism of that
effort was obvious and painful -- but also unsuccessful -- so it was given
up. And the poor&marginalized remained so.

The culture of poverty has returned, this time with a biological rationale
that makes it seem all the more urgent to provide more intense
interventions early, With new digital technologies, it appears from scant
reports I have read, that the data collected are word counts in
conversation that distinguish speakers, can distinguish tv signal from
spoken language, can distinguish turn taking dialogue. These data are not
only easily collectable by the researchers, but easily provided as rapid
feedback to caretakers.

Note in the brief recent commentary I sent around the work of Bill Hall
from the mid-1970's where he had kiddies wearing vests that broadcast to a
researcher who then counted a lot of words. Old fashioned, but the findings
were not.

Its pretty scarey to see this trend suffusing the lives of children and
their families. Plus the Mathew effect...... and,. its time for lunch.


On Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 8:13 AM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>wrote:

> 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?  :)
> Best,
> Huw
> >
> >
> 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
> >
> > By MOTOKO RICHMARCH 25, 2014
> >
> > 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