Thursday, June 26, 2014

Peds give bad reading advice

The do-gooder pediatricians are always giving opinions outside their expertise, and now they have done it again. The NY Times reports:
In between dispensing advice on breast-feeding and immunizations, doctors will tell parents to read aloud to their infants from birth, under a new policy that the American Academy of Pediatrics will announce on Tuesday.

With the increased recognition that an important part of brain development occurs within the first three years of a child’s life, and that reading to children enhances vocabulary and other important communication skills, the group, which represents 62,000 pediatricians across the country, is asking its members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud, every time a baby visits the doctor.
England is ahead of us as a nanny state, and they have an Education Secretary "Sir Michael" who has been knighted by the queen and who wants to fine parents who do not read to their kids:
Speaking about his own experiences as a head teacher in London's inner-city schools, Sir Michael said: "I was absolutely clear with parents - if they weren't doing a good job I would tell them so.

"It's up to head teachers to say quite clearly, 'You're a poor parent.'

"If parents didn't come into school, didn't come to parents' evening, didn't read with their children, didn't ensure they did their homework, I would tell them they were bad parents.

"I think head teachers should have the power to fine them. It's sending the message that you are responsible for your children no matter how poor you are."
It may sound reasonable to blame parents when kids do poorly in school, but the scientific evidence for a benefit from reading to kids is extremely small, and what little effect is noticed is almost certainly attributable to genetic or other factors. See Reading to Newborns Is Probably Useless.

This is an example of bad advice coming from people expressing opinions outside their expertise. Pediatricians are trained in diagnosing child diseases and other health matters, but not in teaching vocabulary to kids or in analyzing social science data. This follows a long list of bad pediatrician recommendations, such as on TV, guns, swimming, vaccines, etc.

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