Monday, February 12, 2007

A very interesting article from New York Magazine about kids and praise

How Not To Talk To Your Kids. This article describes the research of psychologist Carol Dweck, who suggests that emphasizing children's intelligence over other qualities may actually hinder their learning.

It didn't cross my mind until half-way through the article, but as a former Smart Kid, I was paralyzed by the experience of trying something new and failing at it. There are all kinds of things that normal people learn to do--skate, drive, play video games--that I have never learned because I tried them, didn't take to them immediately, and gave up on them. I wonder now if being constantly told what a bright kid I was had something to do with it--you forget that a big part of getting better at things is just trying, failing, and still working at it.

The question, I guess, is whether education and parenting can survive what could be perceived as an attack on the cult of self-esteem.

Note to self: when I have kids of my own, emphasize in this order (a) physical beauty ("Try to lose some weight so boys will like you more") (b) proficiency at sports ("remember, you're not going to have friends unless you know how to play hockey") (c) obedience ("good boy, you did exactly as I said in a timely fashion") (d) intelligence ("Well, I guess being book-smart could have advantages... maybe.")


Rebekah said...

i'm a former smart kid too and i wholeheartedly concur.

paralyzing fear of failure. wouldn't recommend it.

Anonymous said...

like reverse psychology never worked on a boy named sue