James Mayes

Blog: Baby talk… or raising the game?

In Personal, Personal Development, Start-ups on August 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm


While this one is a way off my usual Tech or Talent focus, it’s something that’s been buzzing round my head for a while and a spark hit this weekend that made me want to post something. It’s a bit of a rambler, but if you have kids, an interest in education or a concern for future talent and innovation, I’d love your thoughts!

I’ve often wondered why adults talk down to children? I don’t mean patronising to them, I mean the use of baby talk, using sounds instead of words or just talking complete rubbish.  I’ve always tried to avoid this with my own children and, whether as a direct result or some other happy accident, they both have a voracious appetite for both words and conversation generally.
Harry hears something he doesn’t understand, he asks. He’s five. This weekend, he wanted to know what soporific meant. It sunk in, he used the word for the next few days. During the course of the last election, he wanted to know what a democracy was. Yep, he remembers that too. Kate’s some way behind at two, but the signs are she’s following her big brother’s lead on this curiosity.
Earlier this week, the latest copy of Wired landed. Love it, the only remaining print thing I subscribe to.  Harry’s always fascinated and reading over my shoulder, drawn in by some of the great photos they use – and actually, more often, the data visualizations. This time it was something on ocean currents. He wanted a full explanation – not some simplified “water moves”, but why, whether depth matters, is it like rivers, what else do they affect, is this how islands are made, how are these currents measured, why is a tech magazine writing about nature…
Indeed, he wanted way more than the article itself had to offer (as most parents will know, “Why….” can be never-ending!). He picks up a variety of children’s publications from time to time – things that entertain or amuse – but I struggle to find anything which actually stimulates anything like the same level of curiosity discussion on his part and indeed, he’s taken to pinching expired copies of Wired and taking a flick through himself, then coming back at me on the things that interest him.
So, Wired…  How about Wired for Kids? Keep the article quality high, keep the topics in line with the regular magazine – but publish me a supplement for my boy that he can enjoy in tandem, look at the topic from his perspective, keep the language accessible for him (without dumbing down!) and then watch the parent/child discussions that emerge.
Disruption? Innovation? Don’t just report on it, help inspire the next generation to deliver it!


  1. Bravo. Couldn’t agree more. We’ve always used real English with Esme and never ‘taught’ her ‘baby’ words. The Wired for Kids is a great idea. Do you remember Look and Learn? I was an avid reader as a child and couldn’t wait for the next issue to come out.


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