April 24, 2003
Party titbits

I've just done a quite long posting on Samizdata about the influence of children's toys on later artistic tastes, so I haven't time for much profundity here. But I did attend a social event last night at which I picked up a couple of titbits of interest here.

First, I learned that however interesting a figure Maria Montessori might be in herself, not everyone admires her influence, in the form of your average Montessori school. On the contrary, I encountered the opinion that Montessori schools are employment opportunities for dimwitted women who would otherwise have no place whatever in the teaching profession, and that in general they tend to be extremely disappointing and unsatisfactory places, full of kids being bored to death with pointless objects and just meandering around doing very little. Well, I'm just passing on what I heard.

The other little titbit I gathered up has a bearing on the bilingual raising of children. One of my friends told me last night that she knows of an Anglo-Dutch couple, with a kid. Dad talks to the kid entirely in Dutch, and Mum talks to the kid entirely in English.

The kid is not yet at the stage of talking. He's only at the repetitive nonsense words stage. Nor does he read books yet, for real I mean. But he is at the stage where he turns over the pages of books he already knows from them being read to him. Now, get this. When he "reads" books that his Dad has read to him (in Dutch) the repetitive nonsense noises are Dutch noises, with lots of "ch"-ing from the back of the throat, but when he "reads" Mum books, English books, the noises he makes are different, more of the "Grrrrh!" variety. I love that. I've no idea what it proves, or if it proves anything at all, but I love it.

At the party I also met up with occasional contributor here Julius Blumfeld, who had some very interesting things to say about the role of bias in education (he's for it!) which I urged him to write down and send in. If he doesn't do this reasonably soon, I hereby serve notice that I myself will attempt here to summarise what he said.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:23 PM
Category: LanguagesParents and children