Tabs on Baby Like a Good CEO
a lot easier knowing your child is well on his way to a genius IQ with
. . . "
by Jim Trelease, © 2008
t was just a matter of time before the folks in the "baby genius" clan
discovered the Hart-Risley study and connected it to the insecurities
of affluent, driven IT parents. Bingo! You've got LENA — the Language ENvironment Analysis
device. And it's brought to you from the wonderful people who
created Accelerated Reader (AR),
the popular but controversial reading assessment program for schools.
Either following the research or following the money, AR's CEO Terrance
Paul knows that one of
the root causes for school success or failure is the child's vocabulary
entering school. So along with testing students, let's test the parents—or
at least feed on their insecurities.
Capitalizing on the most popular fears — "Are
you concerned about language delays, autism or transitioning an adopted
child? " — the LENA consists of an iPod-sized device that
can be tucked into an infant's special pocket (yes, there's also a line
of pocket-equipped clothing) that will count the number of words you
utter to the child throughout the day, as well as conversational turns.
At the end of the day, all you have to do is plug LENA into your computer
and the company software (another part of the package) will not only
tally the number of words, but give you a full set of reports that include
where you as a parent-child combo rank against the rest of the U.S.,
how you rank with yourselves (today vs. yesterday), and even a child-development
ranking for the child. The charts are comprehensive enough to be the
envy of any CEO or shareholder. All of this for just $399!
Who knows? If you consistently fail to measure up to national or your
sister-in-law's standards, perhaps the company is developing a means
by which you could fire yourself.
The essential part of this picture is this: the child whose parents
own a computer, can afford the price of LENA, and have the time (and
know-how) to print out and analyze the data, this is not the child at-risk.
The Hart-Risley research (which the LENA folks cite prominently) clearly
demonstrates it is affluent parents who score highest in verbal interaction
with the child and poverty parents who score lowest. And the latter are
the least likely to have the means to buy LENA. All parents worry about
their child's future but only rich ones have the worries AND the money
to buy accessories like this.
One other thought: While the product's advertising focuses on a number
of parental concerns, there are a few they left off that they might consider
addressing in future advertising: Another 9/11 attack; the subprime mortgage
crisis; the price of gas; global warming; and college tuition
costs. ("Worried about how you'll pay for your child's college tuition?
Relax. You'll sleep a lot easier knowing your child is well on his or
her way to a genius IQ with 30,000 words per day thanks to LENA. Your
little genius will be garnering a ton of scholarships someday and soon
be taking care of you and your spouse from a top job in corporate America. The
last thing you'll be worrying about is the price of gas for your two
If you're interested in pursuing the product seriously, here are three
links. The first is to a story done by the Orange
County (Calif.) Register on Nov. 5, 2007; the second
is a New York Times article Feb. 24, 2008; and the third is
the LENA Web site:
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