Can children learn language from television?

My nephew is currently snuggled up with a Curious George plushie he got for his birthday. Let’s revisit what his love of the cartoon character might have meant for his language, in this post from July 11, 2013 originally called “Life imitates art: Child imitates monkey”. Imitation of television is certainly dangerous…to my sister’s sanity.…

The Power of a Bedtime Story

My 4-year-old nephew has an eclectic taste in bed-time stories. One week my sister will find herself reading the adventures of Spryo versus The Mega Monsters, the next week recounting the emotional journey of Mo Willem’s Knuffle Bunny, and the next reading captions out of Smithsonian’s Human: The Definitive Visual Guide. (Yes, at my nephew’s…

What’s in (reading) a verb?

A generation of children learned to read with Dick and Jane. I wasn’t one of them, but I still know the traditional format. See Dick. See Dick run. Run, Dick, run. As the young readers progressed, they must have encountered more complex sentences on their journey to reading. Imagine they encounter See Jane throw the ball to…

Up the Garden Path

My mind today has been on garden paths. That is, on a garden next to a path: the flower bed next to my new front walk, which had been overgrown with grass and weeds and now is clearly defined, weeded, and mulched. In honor of that garden path, let’s consider the most famous garden path…

A Picture Is Worth…

…a thousand lies, according to a 2002 article reporting how Photoshopped pictures of childhood hot air balloon rides, used in interviews with college students, successfully created false memories for about a third of the participants. …less than 45 words, according to the 2005 follow-up (by the same lead researcher) that compared the Photoshopped photos to a…

What’s in a name? The limits of group labels

  Although this trip to Europe will include facts and details covering so many aspects of war – morality, prejudice, obedience, heroism, resilience, remembrance, propaganda – there is one bigger lesson underlying each of those specific ones, the one thing I hope the students will learn and remember decades hence. For all the we speak…

The Man in the Moon is Called Pareidolia

Courtesy of the September/October Scientific American Mind, today’s word of the day is “pareidolia” (pair-ee-DOH-lee-uh, as near as I can tell). It serves as a reminder that there is always something new in my field for me to learn, because even though I knew the phenomenon it describes very well, I had no idea it…

My $5 Worth: Speech Slip-Ups

My first paycheck for pontificating in a professorial manner was a five dollar bill. It was Thanksgiving of my third year in graduate school, and my seventh year of studying cognitive science. My father, older sister, sister’s boyfriend, and I were visiting my aunt’s palatial California abode, and I had indulged in a mid-afternoon nap…