First Take: Raising a Blockhead Print
Lou Gellermann, '58. Photo by Jesse Barracoso.
Parents who want to raise a true baby Einstein might want to consider turning off the Baby Einstein DVDs and breaking out the blocks. That’s the conclusion reached by researchers at the UW, who in successive studies last fall determined that educational DVDs for children may actually inhibit their development and that the opposite is true of good old blocks. Led by Dimitri Christakis, professor of pediatrics and director of the Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute, the investigators found that toddlers who spent time touching, stacking and toppling blocks scored an average of 15 percent higher on language tests than those who did not. The DVD study provoked an angry response from the Walt Disney Corporation, makers of Baby Einstein, who challenged the results and demanded that the UW retract a press release about them. After reviewing the matter, President Mark A. Emmert, ’75, stood by both the findings and the way the University had characterized them. Predictably, there was no corresponding fuss made about the blocks study. “Many toys make claims they are actually educational for kids,” Christakis told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “The interesting thing is that things like blocks never made such claims.”