Sunday, August 30, 2009

Economies of Praise

Most bloggers recognize the importance of the economies of words. Every extra word used takes value away from each individual word. Here's a great NPR interview pointed out by Justin Wehr on how this idea can be applied to how we deal with our children. You already know I am planning on having kids and that I have wishes for good parenting, so here is something I can apply to my future children and my current students:
Children today hear so much praise that they've decoded its real meaning. We're making a mistake in thinking that we can manipulate them without recognizing that manipulation is at hand. So, the research is clear that children only under the age of seven take praise at face value and after that period of time, they learn the pattern. Kids who are praised a lot are the kids who teachers and parents are worried about.
Kids become obsessed with looking good, not actually doing good. In the classroom
they tend to not want to take academic risks. And the worst consequence is that they make this conclusion: I should be getting by on my natural gifts, therefore, to show other kids I'm working hard, would be to broadcast that I'm not naturally smart. When, in fact, in real life you can't get anywhere without not just some intelligence, but also a lot effort and persistence.
I can personally identify with that situation. I remember in graduate school struggling to grasp the calculus of economics, all the while trying not to let on to the truth. Failure shouldn't be ignored, but instead be recognized as a reality of living life.

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