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Author Archives: Graham Scharf

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My name is Graham Scharf. I am a father of two delightful daughters, the husband of a developmental pediatrician, a NYC Teaching Fellow alumnus, co-founder of Tumblon.com and author of The Apprenticeship of Being Human.

2 Gen Cville – helping families out of poverty, 2 generations at a time

My friend Rebecca has worked in community development in our city for nearly two decades. She knows and loves the children and families that she serves, and her heart breaks for them as she sees the same pattern repeated again and again: low-income mother-headed households with no way out. The Money: How hard is it? In one neighborhood in our city, the ... Read More »

Early Childhood is Not a Partisan Issue

Early Childhood is Not a Partisan Issue

How often do you see campaign leaders to opposing presidential candidates writing a joint memo? I can’t remember seeing one before. Jim Messina (D) and Kevin Madden (R) have broken that trend creatively and constructively in this joint memo. They argue that not only is early childhood a sphere in which there is strong electoral support – 60% of Republicans, ... Read More »

What do we mean by Character?

Character Matters Educational journalist Paul Tough has written an important book on education, early childhood, and character called How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character. It appears on my recommended reading list. Tough makes a compelling case for the role of early experiences in forming character, which in turn powerfully shapes children’s educational and vocational prospects. ... Read More »

The Economist: In the Beginning Was the Word

The Economist Gets it Right “Pre-school programmes are known to develop children’s numeracy, social skills and (as the term “pre-school” suggests) readiness for school. But they do not deal with the gap in much earlier in development . . . And it is this gap, more than a year’s pre-schooling at age four, which seems to determine a child’s chances ... Read More »

The Accident of Birth Fallacy

In his State of the Union address, President Obama referred to “the accident of birth” referring to the circumstances into which a particular human being is born. That phrase has entered common usage to refer to the disparity of opportunities experienced by children. It should, however, be abandoned because it does not do justice to the particularities that make us ... Read More »

Data Visualization: Inequality, Parenting and Brain Development

1. Parenting Quality by Income Quintile (from the Brookings Institution) The statistical distribution is almost a perfect correlation between parenting quality and income quintile. 2. Relative Economic (Im)mobility by Income Quintile (from the Pew Charitable Trust) Children in the top and bottom income quintiles are most likely to be income immobile. 3. Brain Development over time (from Harvard Center on ... Read More »

Love and Latency

Almost every capacity we have develops in response to loving nurture. At birth, virtually every ability we will ever have is latent. It is both hidden and undeveloped. Some of those abilities will develop. Others will never appear; they remain latent. Those capacities that develop do so in response to loving nurture. Through loving speech, we learn to form words; ... Read More »

The Crisis of Empathy and Moral Ecology

“How are you today?” a caller asks Dave Ramsey. Ramsey responds without hesitation, “Better than I deserve.” What do you deserve? In Where is the Love? Nicholas Kristof laments the erosion of empathy for the poor, which he receives in the form of comments on his blog and Facebook page. Behind comments like, “Why should I have to subsidize someone else’s child? How about ... Read More »

Hurricane Illegitimacy and Institutional Illegitimacy

Hurricane Illegitimacy and Institutional Illegitimacy

How often is it that you have an African American sports writer for ESPN write a powerful article on the preservation and restoration of the traditional family unit? Jason Whitlock has provided this in taking Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant’s recent temper tantrums as a springboard to name and shame ‘Hurricane Illegitimacy.’ ESPN’s Jason Whitlock on Hurricane Illegitimacy Whitlock ... Read More »

Pre-K is important, but not as important as parents

Last week two important pieces appeared in the New York Times concerning early childhood: Quality Preschool Is the ‘Most Cost-Effective’ Educational Intervention on the Motherlode blog, and Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K on the front page. The latter article attracted letters to the editor from experienced educational leaders. This one was particularly salient: To the Editor: The shocking gap in language skills ... Read More »

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