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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET AMERICA DISCOVERS POVERTY And so on. Later that evening, still in communication mode, the parents disagree on what to watch on television: Mom wants to watch a reality TV competition involving would-be fashion designers and runways; Dad wants to watch college basketball. Assertions are made on both sides as to who always has control of the remote and who got their way last time. Evidence is offered as to which show has the more redeeming qualities (creativity versus teamwork) and the relative importance of each program (season finale of the fashion competition, opening round of tournament). Family tradi- tion and career are both invoked (“My dad will ask me if I saw the game” and “My clients love this show, and everyone but me will be talking about it in the morning”). In incremental instructional mode, words drip from the faucet slowly, one noun at a time. “Can you say, ‘am-phib-i-an’?” But in communication mode, nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs flow in a mighty torrent. As the child listens to these stories and conver- sations, inside his developing brain synapses are firing, new path- ways are constructed, neurons are connected, and words are added to the child’s vocabulary as fast as they are heard. But acquisition of a larger vocabulary is only part of what is going on. The child, without any intentional effort, takes in not only the content of the discussion, but the way ideas are presented—the complex sentence structure, digressions, and irony employed during the mall story; the manner in which arguments are framed, proven, and refuted during the television discussion; and how solutions are negotiated. By simply listening to these conversations and thousands more like them from birth through age five (including and especially during infancy), the children of affluent, well-educated America acquire communication and critical-thinking skills that will last 9 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL