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new research on language development and race

  • 1.  new research on language development and race

    Posted 07-19-2019 09:00 AM
    ICYMI: Time to rethink race-based assumptions on language acquisition. New research from UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute found that "race plays no role in the amount and quality of the words mothers use with their children, or with the language skills their children later develop." What does matter is the mother's education level. To me, that's a compelling reason to increase support for high quality, universal public education.

    For those who want to know more:
    Lynne Vernon‐Feagans, Mary Bratsch‐Hines, Elizabeth Reynolds, Michael Willoughby. How Early Maternal Language Input Varies by Race and Education and Predicts Later Child Language. Child Development, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13281
    Summary available at: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190718164854.htm

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    Faith Rogow, Media Literacy Education Maven
    Insighters Education
    Ithaca NY
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  • 2.  RE: new research on language development and race

    Posted 07-20-2019 12:01 PM
    I wonder who is assuming that race is a factor in limited language exposure. I've never seen that proposed in professional research before. Isn't it generally accepted that education(formal or informal) drives expanded language use and therefore educated parents and care providers use and expose children to more complex language, intrinsically expanding the children's vocabularies? Before we go making the leap that the need for expanded vocabularies justify placing more and younger children in age-sorted, large group classrooms with a highly educated provider, we need to look honestly at how well these environments meet the holistic developmental needs of our babies and children. What else are babies and young children intrinsically learning in home and family environments? Is it justifiable to think that we can universally provide for those needs as
    effectively or more effectively in classroom settings? It seems comparable to the regrettable rush to replace breast milk with infant formula that occurred in the 1950s and '60s. There are now public health campaigns to convince society that breast milk is, as it always was, the healthiest way to feed an infant. The health of our entire society has been affected by this mistake. When we create environments to raise children in we need to think about how homes and families work and interact with young children.

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    Emily Hefko
    Pardeeville WI
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  • 3.  RE: new research on language development and race

    Posted 07-20-2019 06:35 PM
    Emily,
    If what you took away from my post is that I devalue the strengths of all sorts of families and believe that professional educators can do a better job, then I wasn't very clear. The call to support public education was about the mothers, not the children. The U.S. once boasted of the best public education system in the world. Sadly, it wasn't accessible to everyone, but instead of expanding it to make high quality schools universally available, we've slowly and steadily de-funded public education and burdened teachers with bureaucracy and ridiculous high stakes testing. Society, and children raised by parents who only had access to under-resourced schools, are not served well by the disinvestment in public education.

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    Faith Rogow, Media Literacy Education Maven
    Insighters Education
    Ithaca NY
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  • 4.  RE: new research on language development and race

    Posted 07-21-2019 11:41 AM
    I couldn't agree with Emily Helko's comments more. I believe that many early educators forget how much learning occurs at home with families. The language and culture is crucial to the learning. When the larger society pushes one language or one way of teaching and learning there is an imbalance of learning among families that don't fit that model. I was brought up speaking English. Everyone spoke English. I learned in English. I saw  in teaching children coming from families that were speaking primarily Spanish, Haitian Creyole, Cape Verdean were disadvantaged in many ways. I wonder and have been reading about children in families   who grow up in indigenous cultures and languages that live in our communities have been impacted by the dominate culture. We in the NAEYC Peace Educators Interest Forum are trying to raise the issues of indigenous languages on our website, newsletter, and Facebook page. There is many things going on around the country and we would like to share that with interested people. Home language and culture are part of an anti-bias curriculum as well which many people are working on. Thank you Emily for raising the racism inherit in ignoring it.

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    Craig Simpson
    Dorchester MA
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