The disparities between educational attainment in poor vs. wealthy communities is well documented, however, not often discussed is one simple reason why. I first encountered the concept of “word deficit” during one of my MSW courses. The basic premise is that children who come from wealthier families have highly educated parents who use more words than less wealthy, and less educated, parents. That had never occurred to me, but has since settled into my stream of consciousness as a natural belief. In short it makes sense. I remember using words when I was a child without having Â an idea what they meant, but I was pretty sure I was using it properly. That always struck me as a somewhat odd experience. And so we have an interesting stat, “Children of professionals were, on average, exposed to approximately 1,500 more words hourly than children growing up in poverty.” This is a gap of 32 million words before the age of 4. It is common knowledge that it is easy for one to pickup a new language by being exposed to situations where that language is native, obviously this should hold true for native language as well.
After the age of 4 assumptions are being made about the equal footing that children have. IQ tests, standardized tests, and all sorts of value based judgments are being made with the assumption that they can all use the medium by which these values are administered equally. It calls into question whether or not we are measuring intelligence accurately.
The article cites tests given to students to see if they qualify for Specialized High School’s in NYC. Although the tests seem to be neutral in regards to race and ethnicity, this very simple fact might prove that they are not fair at all. I often argue with “professionals” when discussing issues such as morality, and decision making, in the context of poverty, that the “professional” assumes that the person in question has the rational, educational, and even word, capabilities that the professional has themselves. The professional is trying to use empathy, but a failure in their imagination is not allowing them to truly step into the shoes of someone who has been serially uneducated throughout there lives. Even our sense of morality, the depth and complications therein, Require higher end words and concepts that might be missing. In some sense it is hard to blame the professional, it is the only way they know how to experience life, but empathy is a skill that is picked up by children as well. If a child is not exposed to it, they will be lacking in this equally important area of intelligence. In fact, I believe empathy skills are a sign of a higher level of intelligence.
how to learn a new lanague, exposure, not studying, using it everyday…
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