Is it really possible for child in a destitute situation to rise above it and become not only a productive member of society, but to excel? Jonah Lehrer discusses an important New York Times article that I had skipped over the first time I saw the headline on the site. Jonah was most interested in the research that shows the difference in childrearing in affluent versus impoverished homes:
By age 3, the average child of a professional heard about 500,000 encouragements and 80,000 discouragements. For the welfare children, the situation was reversed: they heard, on average, about 75,000 encouragements and 200,000 discouragements.
For me, another statistic cited in the article stood out:
In states with more poor children, spending per pupil is lower. In Mississippi, for instance, it is $5,391 a year; in Connecticut, it is $9,588. Most education financing comes from state and local governments, but the federal supplement for poor children, Title 1, is “regressive,” Liu points out, because it is tied to the amount each state spends. So the federal government gives Arkansas $964 to help educate each poor child in the state, and it gives Massachusetts $2,048 for each poor child there.
The states with the poorest funding of education get the least federal support. These also tend to be the states with the worst records in educating children and the highest poverty rates. The situation is exactly the reverse of what it needs to be: children from broken, impoverished homes need more governmental support, not less.
The article also mentions research by Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman showing that self-discipline is more important than high IQ in student achievement. This research, however, is being applied effectively in only a few schools, and the price tag for this level of education is high.
If you want a better sense of what it takes to really educate those most in need, take fifteen minutes and read both the Times article and Jonah’s post.
In other news:
- Panel reveals recommendations to improve peer review
- Nice summary of recent blog posts on emotion. Our new emotion category has a couple good ones, too.
- Okay, I’ll bite on this one: Help measure the speed of a meme
- Finally, this, too funny to be ignored. From the Amazon.com gift suggestion list for the one who has everything: A 12″ X 12″ sheet of titanium. It’s … ummm … unique?