A Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics article reported results of a study of language development, which affects reading and academic success. The controlled experiment observed parents at play with infants from 1 month to 16 months of age, while either engaged with traditional toys and books, or electronic toys. When researchers counted and analyzed child vocalizations and adult verbal responses, they concluded, “Play with electronic toys is associated with decreased quantity and quality of language input compared with play with books or traditional toys.” The researchers say that “in order to promote early language development, play with electronic toys should be discouraged.” (JAMA Pediatrics, 2-2016)
The U.S. took first place in the 56th International Mathematical Olympiad held last July in Thailand. The American team coach says, “The bench of American teens who can do world-class math is significantly wider and stronger than it used to be.” The March of 2016 Atlantic magazine reports, “You wouldn’t see it in most classrooms, you wouldn’t know it by looking at slumping national test-score averages, but a cadre of American teenagers are reaching world-class heights in math — more of them, more regularly than ever before.” Sadly, the Atlantic article found that these students who excel in math “are being produced by a new pedagogical ecosystem — almost entirely extracurricular,” and not in schools.
University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier arranged a five-day trip to North Korea through a travel agency on his way to Hong Kong, where he was going to take a finance course. But after the 21-year-old removed a sign from a hotel hallway on the last day of his January trip, he received a show trial, was convicted of a “hostile act,” and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. He’s being held in an undisclosed location in the totalitarian nation. (Washington Post, 3-31-16)