The key comes in making it bigger or smaller, not in “how far it floats.”
It’s a problem every child faced in elementary school, and it’s still a problem.
At a recent talk sponsored by Child Study International, Professor R. Lee Guess, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, looked at these elementary school students’ thinking about fishing. He found that they don’t even really understand the word “turn.” Their first step in drawing a fish looks much like the first step in drawing a “fish” in preschool:
In fact, they’ve gotten worse over the years at distinguishing between fish and other objects, like a tennis ball or a plastic bottle, that aren’t fish, as you can see below:
This, of course, isn’t that different than what children learn at home. But they have a hard time remembering the difference between those objects when they’re adults. One result of this, Guess concluded, was that many students didn’t even take the fish concept up through elementary school. When presented with “fish” on the slide in his presentation, they could remember it as an object in a pond.
What Guess has shown us is that elementary school students don’t learn concepts like “turn” and “fish” until they’re advanced enough at the “fish” concepts that they have the ability to differentiate between objects of different sorts.
These days, many children learn concepts through activities.
But most don’t learn concepts by studying books. In fact, they learn concepts on TV and in films—things they can easily remember by looking at them on television. And because kids are so well served by television, they tend to be too quick to discard knowledge as old or irrelevant.
In fact, a 2013 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that children from low-income families were more likely to skip basic concepts like “the distance between two objects” or “the amount of space between an object and its surroundings.”
Kids from households headed by someone earning less than $10,000 are twice as likely to skip these concepts as kids from middle-class families.
In other words, children from families with a lot of money get a lot of TV time to watch, and they have access to information at their fingertips. But children from people with less than high-income families don’t have TV time, and they’ve been exposed to much less and less information over their lives. This, combined with parental education
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