Life's Better Ideas

Occasional links to, and comments on, ideas that I think will make this a better world, and remarks about things that need fixing, too.

Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hard Choices, Notes 1

Gov. Lamm gave us some supplemental reading on Education, the next topic. One of the 15 or more books covered is "Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children" by Hart and Risley. Two excerpts:
There are remarkable differences in the relative amounts of children's early experience. Simply in words heard, the average welfare child was having half as much experience per hour (616 words per hours) as the average working-class child (1,251 words per hour) and less than one third that of the average child in a professional family (2,153 words per hour). These relative differences in amount of experience were so durable over the more than two years of observations that they provide the best basis we currently have for estimating children's actual life experience.

We can extrapolate similarly the relative differences the data showed in children's hourly experience with parent affirmatives and prohibitions. The average child in a professional family was accumulating 32 affirmative and 5 prohibitions per hour, a ratio of 6 encouragements to 1 discouragement. The average child in a working class family was accumulating 12 affirmatives and 7 prohibitions per hour, a ration of 2 encouragements to 1 discouragement. The average child in a welfare family, though, was accumulating 5 affirmatives and 11 prohibitions per hour, a ratio of 1 encouragement to 2 discouragements. In a 5,200-hour year, the amount would be 166,000 encouragements to 26,000 discouragements in a professional family, 62,000 encouragements to 36,000 discouragements in a working class family and 26,000 encouragements to 57,000 discouragements in a welfare family.

Simply stunning, with profound implications.


Blogger dave meleney said...

When my daughter Lisa was about a year and a half, I was shopping for some fruit at a market and told her: "no" for some reason or other.... a very kindly old man approached and explained that he was a professor of childhood development at UCLA and that the thing they found most profoundly improved a child's development was for the parents to find ways other than "no" whenever possible.

It soon became apparent that with such a cooperative child as Lisa it was pretty easy to avoid that word pretty much all the time and so she has been almost completly in charge of her own life for over 15 years now.

Thanks for the wonderful post.

12:34 AM  

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