Will listening to Mozart's symphonies make your newborn smarter? Is your child's brain unalterably "hard-wired" by age 3? Don't believe the hype, trumpets educational consultant John T. Bruer, Ph.D., in The Myth of the First Three Years
. A powerful political element has put its spin on dated, unrelated, and inadequate research, he says, christening it "the new neuroscience." According to Bruer, both Mozart and a study of one-eyed kittens are spuriously linked to the future success of our nation's children and are being used to propel a platform of welfare reform. Disgruntled by the lack of hard, scientific evidence behind the latest policy push, he asks, "But just what is the connection, for example, between the 100 billion nerve cells, developing healthy brain circuitry, and selective TV watching?"
Countering the central tenets of the myth by exposing the research upon which it is supposedly based, Bruer finds, "Apart from eliminating gross neglect, neuroscience cannot currently tell us much about whether we can, let alone how to, influence brain development during the early stage of exuberant synaptic formation." And contrary to the myth, up-to-the-minute research actually informs us of the remarkable plasticity of the brain and its power to continue learning throughout life. Perhaps most insidiously, "the Myth rejects strong genetic determinism in favor of early neural-environmental determinism.... The argument is but one rhetorical move away from an early-environmental version of the Bell Curve."
Less a tool for parents than a fascinating case study for students of political science or public relations, The Myth of the First Three Years slams the policy machine that has hijacked the new neuroscience and redirected it to finance a new wave of entitlements. --Brian J. Williamson
From Library Journal
Bruer, president of the James S. McDonnell Foundation in St. Louis, has written a provocative analysis of public response to the science of brain development. His argument is a combination of anti-big government conservatism and rigorous scientific method. Criticizing the media and misguided politicians, he argues that brain-development studies have been misrepresented in an effort to reserve public money for early childhood public services. He suggests that funds would be better spent on lifelong services, like skills classes for parents and caregivers. Along the way, he levels some well-deserved criticism at reports in the media that misinterpret and oversimplify scientific studies in order to support a popular agenda and cautions against confusing learning that must take place in a developmental sequence with other learning that can occur throughout life. Because his thesis will raise a fair amount of controversy, this book would add balance to any child development collection. Recommended for public and academic libraries.AMargaret Cardwell, Georgia Perimeter Coll., Clarkston
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.