Monday, December 17, 2007

"You mean I don't have to be dumb?"

There is an interesting article in this month's Scientific American, The Secret to Raising Smart Kids.

I have always been deeply skeptical of the emphasis some people place on the importance of self-esteem for children. I have always felt that rather than focusing on making them feel good about themselves regardless of what they do, it is more important to equip them with the values that allow them to respect themselves based on their behavior and performance.

Self-esteem has metaphorically struck me as the powdered donut of life. Tasty and desirable but no substitute for a balanced meal and in the long run undermining one's good health.

This article relates the results of this particular scientist's researches. While somewhat tainted with academic jargon, it does, more than most, suggest productive things that a parent can do to help their child, and should be praised for that. We need all the help we can get.

And of course I zeroed in on the most pertinent part of the article:

How do we transmit a growth mind-set to our children? One way is by telling stories about achievements that result from hard work. For instance, talking about math geniuses who were more or less born that way puts students in a fixed mind-set, but descriptions of great mathematicians who fell in love with math and developed amazing skills engenders a growth mind-set, our studies have shown.

My emphasis added.

Let me know (through the comments button) the books you think capture the ethos of success through effort rather than success through innate talent alone.

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