According to the New York Times’ article, Trying to Close the Knowledge Gap, Word by Word (2014), the city of Providence, Rhode Island has plans to implement a program called “Providence Talks” which plans to decrease the “knowledge gap” in wealthy and poor children. How? The program requires children to wear a device that records words that are spoken from “live human conversation” around them. The intent is to use the recorder to aid parents in teaching their children words and increase their knowledge base. Data is then analyzed to provide feedback to the parents.
As the PSU WC Lesson commentary (2014) describes, our knowledge is attained through our environment. As we learn more and more from the things around us, we being to categorize the information and eventually build levels to it. The research by Rosch “introduced the idea of basic level categories”: (Goldstein, 2011, p. 247) Global (Superordinate), Basic and Specific (Subordinate). As our knowledge increases, the more detail and specific information we know. For example, we may first learn about animals which is the Global level, then as we gain more knowledge, we learn about cats, which is the Basic level. Eventually we may learn even more detail on cats such as Siamese, Persian, etc. In order to build the more specific levels, we must first build information at the Global (Superordinate) level. The Exemplar Theory states that we store knowledge based on the examples encountered in our experiences (PSU WC, 2014).
Both of these theories are being exemplified with the “Providence Talks” programs. By having the children wear the recorder, it serves to digitally store knowledge as it is experienced in their environment (similar to how the knowledge is stored in the brain). Parents are then aiding them in building their basic level categories by engaging in conversation. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to encourage parents to engage in conversations with their children in order to increase their knowledge base by utilizing their environments. While most of the programs mentioned in the article refer to lower socio-economic groups, the premise is feasible for all parents.
Goldstein, B. (2011). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience, 3rd Edition. Wadsworth, Inc.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2014). PSYCH 256 Lesson 10: Knowledge. Retrieved from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/sp14/psych256/002/content/11_lesson/05_page.html
Rich, M. (2014, March 25). Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word. The New York Times. Retrieved April 18, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/us/trying-to-close-a-knowledge-gap-word-by-word.html?_r=0