Education: Why, Johnny!

Little pitchers not only have big ears, but they fill up faster than grownups think they do. At least, so says Robert H. Seashore, Northwestern University psychologist. After testing vocabularies of Illinois public-school children for more than six years, he is convinced that the average first-grader knows about ten times as many words as he is supposed to.

First-grade texts, he says, use about 2,500 words. The figure was arrived at by counting the words one set of children used over a two-week period. But, argued Seashore, a kid uses words as the occasion demands. Had he gone to the zoo during...

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