February 21, 2008

30 Years Of Studies: Tell That Kid To Grow A Brain!

I think we all know by now that praising a kid for being smart or talented instead of for working hard will doom them to failure--or even worse, a state school--when they're older. [And by "we," I mean people who read this NY Magazine article like a year ago.]

If you're not we, then check out this nice overview article on the scientific differences between smarts and effort in Scientific American, and then try using some of that reverse brainology on your own kid:

In addition to encouraging a growth mind-set through praise for effort, parents and teachers can help children by providing explicit instruction regarding the mind as a learning machine. Blackwell, Trzesniewski and I recently designed an eight-session workshop for 91 students whose math grades were declining in their first year of junior high. Forty-eight of the students received instruction in study skills only, whereas the others attended a combination of study skills sessions and classes in which they learned about the growth mind-set and how to apply it to schoolwork.

In the growth mind-set classes, students read and discussed an article entitled “You Can Grow Your Brain.” They were taught that the brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with use and that learning prompts neurons in the brain to grow new connections. From such instruction, many students began to see themselves as agents of their own brain development. Students who had been disruptive or bored sat still and took note. One particularly unruly boy looked up during the discussion and said, “You mean I don’t have to be dumb?”

... [long story short: it worked]...

Teaching children such information is not just a ploy to get them to study. People do differ in intelligence, talent and ability. And yet research is converging on the conclusion that great accomplishment, and even what we call genius, is typically the result of years of passion and dedication and not something that flows naturally from a gift. Mozart, Edison, Curie, Darwin and Cézanne were not simply born with talent; they cultivated it through tremendous and sustained effort. Similarly, hard work and discipline contribute much more to school achievement than IQ does.

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids [sciam.com via tmn]

1 Comment

Interesting!

Did you catch Morning Edition this morning??
"Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills"

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19212514

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