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Childhood is such a precious, yet trenchant part of life. We all have memories of our days as children along with stories of lessons learned. Childhood is reflected by most as being a time of bliss and enlightenment. As I recall my childhood an avalanche of mixed feelings suffocates me. Would I be able to interpret these feelings if I had not learned language? More importantly, is it possible to teach language after the "critical period" has been extinguished? This is the prominent question that arose in my mind as I read "A Silent Childhood". The researchers' goal was to establish if "Genie" was capable of language after eleven years of isolation. Also, how much of language, if any is innate, and how much is learned?
"Genie"? First of all, that name bothers me. Why in the world would someone name the child "Genie"? Granted, it was during the seventies when these events occurred, however, that is the best name they could conjure up? Webster's dictionary defines a genie as "a supernatural spirit that often takes human form". Were the researchers inferring that they did not view this poor child as human? Why not name her something ladylike and promising like "Hope" or "Heaven". With a child like "Genie" who was deprived of any sort of nurturing and positive reinforcement, I would think the name would be the first place to start in reconciling the child with a positive outlook upon herself and the world. A name like "Genie" gives me the impression that it is going to take magic to repair all the damage that has been done. The article later stated that "Genie" liked when she was described as pretty. Wouldn't it have been great if her name made her feel pretty? Since a name is something one hears hundreds time a day, the repetition of a beautiful name would redirect the negative thoughts that were pounded in her head for so many years.
Speaking of years, "Genie" was thirteen when her mother stumbled into the social welfare office. Scientists don't agree how language is acquired, but they do agree that the first years of life a critical for language. Some scientists even believe that language is almost impossible to learn after the age of seven, six years before "Genie" was brought in for help.
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"Teaching Language after the Critical Period Has Been Extinguished in A Silent Childhood." 123HelpMe.com. 04 Apr 2020
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I would have placed her with a family that agreed to adopt her for life (preferably Jean Butler). She would have had a home health aid to make sure she continued to be healthy and maybe do some physical therapy to ease her development. I would have let Susan Curtiss observe and visit maybe three to four hours a day and any other research would have to be limited to just two days a week for two to three hours. Visits from her mother are very important so she could visit her mother whenever time permitted. I think putting her in school was also a great idea. I would have placed her in school as soon as possible. It's hard to say if "Genie" would have been able to live independently, but that would have been my goal.
It is truly a shame that there was "competition" to study "Genie", but when she was living with her mother, and she needed help hardly anyone could be found. It is also unfair that out of all the money that went to study her, almost none of it went to the benefit her or her mother. Why is "Genie" now living in a home for adults who are retarded when she is not retarded? Did everyone just give up on her?
"I have neither given or received nor have I tolerated the use of unauthorized aid."