Sunday, January 19, 2014

What-What?! Week of January 19th

Something Silly:  My Little Pony Movies on Netflix


Netflix just recently added a bunch of My Little Pony movies from the mid-2000's (scroll down to M).  It's from generation three era, so it's basically all cutesy ponies and little girl stuff.  If you don't have kids, I wouldn't recommend it whatsoever, but my children enjoy the films, especially the song and dance numbers.

As an MLP geek, I did want to point out The Runaway Rainbow, which follows the story of Rarity becoming the princess of Unicornia, is actually pretty accurate prehistory to the current My Little Pony TV series.  If you just pretend that this film is historical, and all the current ponies are named after these historical figures, it makes a lot more sense.

Something Serious: Closing the Word Gap Between Rich and Poor



Recently, NPR ran an article discussing the "word gap" between the rich and poor.  Research estimates that, by the age of three, poor children hear about 30 million fewer words than children from more affluent families.

The article quotes the mayor of Providence, RI, saying that two-thirds of RI kindergartners start out the year below national literacy averages.  However, the article and the mayor make no comments about the income backgrounds of those children.  This begs the question: Are these subpar literacy skills the result of the word gap, or other factors?  Further, if it is connected to the word gap, perhaps not speaking to your children is cultural to the area, not connected to economic background?

What bothers me about this research is that it is largely about the result -- the lack of words spoken to poor children -- as opposed to the reasons why this occurs.  The article posits a few reasons for the gap, but at the same time, these reasons seem to be in the vein that poor people don't know how to parent effectively.  Using this as an excuse to enact universal preschool is especially disgusting; not only would preschool would be a band-aid measure that "fixes" the problem after it's all ready happened, but it also acts on the assumption that 10-20 children in a room with one teacher for a few hours everyday is better than the more individual and substantial interaction from a parent.

Other research has found that low income families are more likely to watch TV and movies with their children, which takes time away from talking, playing, or reading books.  It would follow that this fact is involved with reducing interaction between parents and children, much more than simply "poor parents don't talk enough".  What's interesting, is that studies have shown that less parental life pressures, less parental screen time, and greater social support, are connected to reduced screen time in children.  Those factors are all probably connected:  More social support leads to less stress in life, thus parents are less likely to want to "veg out" in front of the TV after a long day.  If parents aren't watching TV, their children probably aren't, either.

(imgs via Wikipedia, NPR.com)

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