The effect of those early months

It is scarcely believable but, every day since a baby is newly born, hundreds of neurons — brain cells — begin to die. This amounts to a handsome assurance that the baby will be able to cope with a wide variety of possible environments. The neurons he won’t need for many environments over the coming months — are thus not stimulated — and quietly fade away.

In this way, a child of an upper middle-class family at 11 years of age — and who has been to a good nursery, prep school and expensive private school in the meantime — can be as much as three or four years ahead in educability than a child from a poor background. Such a child, deprived of plenty of socialisation, books, conversation and supportive parents, will remain a low earner for the rest of his life.

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