Here’s a plate of interesting food for thought from the PBS Newhour blog. In his interview with Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman, Paul Solman provides insight into the impact of early education and parenting on kids’ IQ scores and ultimately, on helping people develop their potential and impact the United States’ economic prospects. Solman refers to this interview from a few years ago in light of President Obama’s state of the union address calling for universal early childhood education.
During this interview, Heckman cites a few startling findings that could impact social programs put in place to help those in poverty. He states that incentives can erase achievement gaps and that very early and intense interventions can also boost students’ IQ scores. He goes on to offer suggestions on what needs to be done in such programs and explains that genetics are important, but the home environment is even more influential in determining a child’s destiny. Heckman quotes British economist Alfred Marshall in urging us to consider investing in early childhood education,”The greatest capital that you can invest in is human capital, and, of that, the most important component is the mother.” Investing in children and families in early on results in more positive outcomes for society in the long run.