What is Teaching?

Avatar

Kazzy

One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

Related Post Roulette

11 Responses

  1. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    It seems to me that the process of being taught is not only teaching the skill in question, but is also teaching you how to teach–if you speak to your child frequently, that kid will learn that the best way to interact with kids is to talk to them frequently, and will pass along that advantage to her own children. Great post!Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Dan Miller says:

      Yea, the study as I understand doesn’t necessarily ferret out cause and correlation and all that jazz, but as we look at the way feedback loops for success develop, wherein the cultural and social elite transmit to their kin the skills, values, beliefs, and ways of being that make the elite what it is, it is no wonder that schools alone cannot correct for this.

      And while there are a number of reasons why low- and middle-income families can’t or won’t adopt all of the cultural elements of the elite, to whatever extent increased communication between parent and child can improve child outcomes, it seems one of the easier and more likely to be adapted.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Dan Miller says:

      I wonder about that point.

      Certainly, I have picked up definite ideas of how one interacts with an older kid – basically starting roughly where my own memories start to crystallize – from my parents’ style.

      If I had younger siblings, I suspect I’d get many of my ideas of how to relate to younger kids from seeing my parents raise them, more than from how they raised me.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to dragonfrog says:

        That’s a good point. Although I wonder how much of this is “wealthier, high-status people talk to their kids more” and how much is “wealthier, high-status people talk more”.Report

  2. Avatar George Turner says:

    ?Children of welfare mothers heard an average of 620 words per hour from their mothers
    ?Children of working class mothers heard an average of 1250 words per hour from their mothers
    ?Children of professional mothers heard an average of 2150 words per hour from their mothers

    Won’t someone please make mom shut up?!!!!

    Seriously though, if you turn this around it might show a correlation between income and the proclivity to talk and talk and talk, or more properly between income and language skills, probably as a proxy for intelligence and interaction.

    What I’d be really curious to see is a comparison to fathers, perhaps as:

    ?Children of cowboys heard an average of 5 words per hour from their fathers (“Go fetch them cows in”)
    ?Children of working class fathers heard an average of 24 words per hour from their fathers (“Get me a beer” six times an hour)
    ?Children of professional fathers heard an average of 2000 words per hour from their fathers (“You’ve washed both cars, so I’m crediting your allowance by $5.00, of which $0.37 is being withheld for state and local taxes, FICA, …. blah blah blahReport

  3. Avatar Roger says:

    The stats on parent and child interaction are fascinating. To properly focus our efforts on education, I think we need to understand this relationship.

    Is it that less intelligent parents speak less and tend to have less intelligent kids, hence bad life outcomes?
    Is it that less intelligent parents speak less and this stifles the intellectual development of their kids?
    Is it that people that don’t tend to speak to their kids, regardless of intelligence, tend to have less successful kids in terms of life outcomes?
    Is it that there is a correlation between time preference/horizons and life outcomes, and that those not wanting to invest as much in their kids are also less likely to invest in themselves, a characteristic which may be inheritable?
    Other?

    These are empirical questions with empirical answers. When we know the weight each of these contributes to the problem, we can begin to build productive solutions.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

      Causation/correlation is difficult to ferret out. But there is no doubt that socio-economic status is a huge predictor in educational outcomes. Leaving aside the question of if and how we can address economic inequality, we can still answer these two questions:
      1.) What can parents do regardless of their SES that can improve educational outcomes?
      2.) What must schools do differently when working with students of different SES?Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Kazzy says:

        Sorry, K but you are dodging…

        These are questions which can be answered, and which need to be answered if we want to progress on solving the problem. If the problem is that the parents are less inclined to do anything compared to upper classes, then the recommended solution will be different.

        It seems to me that those in charge of solving the problem of education are afraid or uninterested in asking the critical questions. Actually I suspect we already know the answer to these questions, and are just not interested in facing the music. It is politically incorrect.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

          Roger,

          Allow me to clarify. In stating the difficulty with causation/correlation, I was referring to the specifics of this study. I don’t think we can necessarily conclude that the number of words spoken per hour during children’s first year of life is the sole determinant in their educational outcome. I cited the study because it demonstrate that learning opportunities, realized or missed, exist in a variety of places outside the classroom and that schools alone cannot account for differences that exist here.

          As to your questions, I don’t personally know the answers, but agree that they probably can be answered. As I see it, those would be subquestions to the questions I asked.

          However, I am focused less on the causes and more on the solutions. I realize that solutions are, in large part, predicated on understanding causes, but I got a sense from the framing of your questions that they were somewhat intended to assign blame. I don’t see much value in that.

          If we can identify that increased verbal interactions and language exposure during the first years of life can close educational outcome gaps, then we should encourage parents of all SES levels to talk to and with their children more. Provided the parents have the time in their day to do this (e.g., they’re not working 16 hour days, though even in that case, their child is presumably with some other adult), it is something any parent can do regardless of income level. This goes to my first question

          If we identify an inheritable characteristic, wherein people of lower intelligence are likely to have children with lower intelligence AND we can properly correlate SES levels to innate intelligence levels, than I think we need to look at whether we should be teaching these children in exactly the same way as we are teaching children of other SES levels and, consequently, other innate intelligence levels. This goes to my second question.Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to Kazzy says:

            I agree completely with the last two paragraphs. Conflating cause and blame is always an issue in something like this. It needs to be something that social scientists can rise above and ask the proper questions, conduct the proper studies, and concoct potential solutions.

            The foundational root causes of disparate outcomes needs to be understood to be addressed.

            I do suspect some of the answers are known and are being actively ignored for reasons that have nothing to do with the welfare of the kids and everything to do with the credibility of ideology and the livelihood of rent seekers.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

              “I do suspect some of the answers are known and are being actively ignored for reasons that have nothing to do with the welfare of the kids and everything to do with the credibility of ideology and the livelihood of rent seekers.”

              Certainly possible. But I will say that *I* do not have the answers.

              Edited to add: Nor am I important enough to part of some cabal dedicated to hiding them.Report