tomv on Tue, 18 Apr 2000 04:49:41 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] "Experts Rot Our Children's Brains"

[Observer UK news]

Experts rot our children's brains: expert

Anthony Browne, Health Editor
Sunday April 16, 2000

Experts can rot young children's brains, a parenting expert warned
yesterday. The warning is set to alarm parents who believe they must
introduce their children to experts at ever younger ages.

Dr Jane Healy, an educational psychologist from America, told a conference
in London that instead of helping to advance a child's knowledge, experts
can stunt the healthy development of a child's mind, reducing attention span
and hampering language skills. Parents who feel guilty about not buying
their child an expert and expensive 'learning advice' will be relieved.

Healy told the Parent Child 2000 conference that parents should limit the
time youngsters spend using experts and watching conferences. Rather than
living in an 'unchallenging, two-dimensional world', they should interact
with others around them.

Demolishing the hype of what she calls the 'technology-pushers', Healy
condemned the conventional wisdom that declares every child must have an
expert at home and in school. Studies have shown that children under the age
of seven are likely to be better off without them.

Dr Healy told the conference: 'It is playing with the parental hormone,
guilt, to make them believe that if a child doesn't have an expert by the
age of three it's not going to get a job.

'But quite to the contrary, it is limiting children's physical development
and taking too much time away from what they should be doing. They are, in
fact, damaging the brain development in the sense that it's going to make it
harder for them to learn at school.'

In the US, schools spent more than $4 billion on experts last year, and the
market for 'edutainment' advice is growing at about 30 per cent a year. Tony
Blair has promised to connect every UK school to the Internet.

Rye College in Watford runs lessons for 18-month-old infants, using advice
aimed at the very young. They learn about shapes, colours and simple words.
At two and a half, children begin programming and basic word processing.

But Healy said: 'Most of this advice ... is doing more harm than good.'

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