In this article from “The Monitor“, we can see what a difference simply talking with children can make in the chances for success of those children.
Talk is cheap.
What a mercy. That means that even poor families can afford to provide their children something that is arguably key to lifting them out of poverty and into middle-class success: a torrent of words.
One of the biggest differences between poor families in America and their middle- and upper-class counterparts, research has shown, is the dearth of language in the former and the abundance of it in the latter. Specifically, a study done in Kansas City in the 1980s found that a middle-class child is likely to have heard, by age 3, 20 million more words than a poor child.
These are the words of conversations around the breakfast or dinner table, or on family outings. They are the words of “How did your day go, dear?” conversations children overhear between their parents. And most important, they are the words of books read aloud.
Usually this space considers individual words that are in the news or have caught the ear or eye of your faithful scribe. But right now I’m thinking of the value of language as a whole. Specifically, something I’ve picked up in my late-summer listening: the piece Ira Glass presented, as part of his public radio series “This American Life,” on Geoffrey Canada’s “Baby College.”
Mr. Canada has been the driving force behind the Harlem Children’s Zone, an ambitious program in New York City that seeks to lift young people out of poverty by getting them through high school and college.
The past few decades have seen an explosion of new knowledge of the way young children’s minds develop. An understanding of the importance of reading aloud to and of conversing with children has made its way out of scientific circles into the middle-class mainstream. But not into Harlem.
“Places like Harlem are often left out of the science of youth development,” Canada remarked in an interview with reporter Paul Tough.
This is the problem that Baby College, a program of parenting education, is meant to address. One of the most intense subjects covered in the series of nine Saturday sessions is disciplining children by means other than corporal punishment – by negotiation, by time-outs, or by talking with them.
This is a tough sell for advocates of “old-fashioned” discipline. But it illustrates a critical thing that language does for human beings – and not just poor kids in Harlem. Language helps us put some distance between ourselves and our powerful emotions. A child who can put a name to his or her feelings can begin to control them. And when parents encourage their children’s language skills, it’s not just about vocabulary building, but about larger life skills as well – self-control, motivation, a habit of openness to new ideas.
“I read to him every night … even when I’m tired,” one young mother, a graduate of Baby College, told Mr. Tough. “Even if it’s the same book that I’ve read to him over and over.”
A rising tide, they say, lifts all boats. The early signs from the Harlem Children’s Zone are heartening. Already, the third-graders at the zone’s charter school have tested above the New York City average reading score. And 95 percent of them score at grade level or above in math.
As Canada puts it, “It’s much easier than people think.”
PROBLEM IS, very few think in terms of “annual” budgets and seasonal expenses. Of course people worry about “getting through” the Holydays, or summer vacation, or “back to school” expenses, but few think in terms of average monthly expenses. That is, putting aside some cash so that its available for times when there truly are higher expenses.
Its an Israeli thing that us “foreigners” need to shed some light on.
If the world continues to tolerate the worst of humanity, can we really expect to combat something much “smaller” like poverty? Here is PM Netanyahu on the right approach for all humanity:
Here’s a report from Consumer Reports on the effects of the current economy on poverty levels:
The U.S. will press world leaders to boost emergency government spending to lift the global economy, risking a rift with European nations more concerned with revamping financial regulation. (Wall Street Journal)
American investors are ditching foreign ventures and bringing their dollars home, entrusting them to the supposed bedrock safety of United States government bonds. And China continues to buy staggering quantities of American debt. And yet in a global economy crippled by a lack of confidence and capital, with lending and investment mechanisms dysfunctional from Milan to Manila, the tilt of money toward the United States appears to be exacerbating the crisis elsewhere. (New York Times)
Many have heard of her, Clara Hammer, “The Chicken Lady”.
As the conversation went on we got into more details on the work front. He works at a company here in Israel promoting a financial product. Basically, telephone sales. He works East to West Coast hours. That is, until 5:45am Israel time. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, his first bus back home is at 7:00am. In other words, he has to wait one and a quarter hours to for the bus so he get get home see his wife and kids.
So how much does he make in this crazy schedule? Well, he says there are those that make 7,000 or 8,000 shekels. That, in case you did not know, is not enough to make a living if you are married with a few kids. The amazing thing is though, is that he seems to feel that that is a decent income. Weel, all I can say is, either he’s right, and I have alot to learn. OR, he’s just moved to Israel (which he has) and he does not yet know the financial insanities of the place.
The tragic loss of one of Israel’s, one of the Jewish people’s up and coming heroes has many of us pondering life, feeling for the Ramon family, and perhaps even feeling for ourselves. Thoughts of “what could have been?”. Thoughts of what “should have been!”
The question that always comes up after national, or for that matter, even private tragedies is, OK, what does this mean for me?
I think the answer is more that just, do something good for your family or for your friend. Or, do something good for the world.
The message I believe we can take from Assaf and Ilan Ramon’s life (not death but life!) is do whatever you do as heroe. A modest heroe, like Moses, but as a hero. In the best manner that it can possibly be done. If we all do things that way, our children will be better off, our spouses, or friends and neighbors, and ultimately, the world!
Posted by admin under Perspective
Is it right or is it wrong to write about a family who has become a symbol of survival, of strength, of hope. Assaf Ramon has not yet been buried and yet what else can one write about. No, business must not “go on”. The country is in mourning. What a tragedy.
Assaf, the son who overcame the hardship of losing his father in his (his father’s) quest for the outer reaches of man’s strength and imagination, led him (Assaf) to pursue the same. And in the end, oh so tragically, another catastrophe amongst the Jewish People. May G-D grand Mrs. Ramon only peace, and if possible, happiness from here on in.
Poverty is not the cause of terrorism. It is exploited by radical Islam. Today, September 11, is the time to gain knowledge and decide to take action to save the world.
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