Education

How Talk Builds Babies’ Brains with Dana Suskind (Ep. 13)

When Prof. Dana Suskind first began implanting devices called cochlear implants on babies who couldn’t hear, she quickly noticed something about her patients. “The cochlear implant would allow sound to go to a child’s brain, but something else was needed to make those sounds have meaning.” Suskind observed that many of her patients struggled to develop language because their parents didn’t talk to them as much. It was a revelation that inspired her to found the Thirty Million Words Initiative, which aims to narrow that achievement gap. The program has since led to a best-selling book and most recently, a community partnership that will test these innovative ideas on a national scale. On this episode of Big Brains, Suskind discusses her transformation from surgeon to social scientist, how auditing a UChicago class shaped her work, and simple advice for parents and care-givers to teach kids from day one.

Future of Higher Education and College Access with Robert J. Zimmer (Ep. 10)

As president of the University of Chicago, Robert J. Zimmer has a unique view to the challenges and opportunities facing higher education, and one of the biggest obstacles he sees is access for all students. While private institutions continue to offer greater financial support, Zimmer believes government and public institutions now need to do their part.  “Is the country going to invest in the future of young people, or is it not? And is it going to provide access to higher education for people from all sorts of financial backgrounds? I think this is so important to the future of the country,” says Zimmer, who is also one of the leading champions of free expression on college campuses. On this episode of Big Brains, Zimmer how a scholarly career in mathematics fostered his deep ties to the University; his efforts to expand the sciences (including engineering) and arts and humanities; and developments for UChicago around the world, including a new center in Hong Kong. Subscribe to Big Brains on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify, and rate and review the podcast.