For the past ten years, psychologist Carol Dweck and her team at Columbia (she’s now at Stanford) studied the effect of praise on students in a dozen New York schools. Her seminal work—a series of experiments on 400 fifth-graders—paints the picture most clearly.
Dweck sent four female research assistants into New York fifth-grade classrooms. The researchers would take a single child out of the classroom for a nonverbal IQ test consisting of a series of puzzles—puzzles easy enough that all the children would do fairly well. Once the child finished the test, the researchers told each student his score, then gave him a single line of praise. Randomly divided into groups, some were praised for their intelligence. They were told, “You must be smart at this.” Other students were praised for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.
”Why just a single line of praise? “We wanted to see how sensitive children were,” Dweck explained. “We had a hunch that one line might be enough to see an effect.”
Then the students were given a choice of test for the second round. One choice was a test that would be more difficult than the first, but the researchers told the kids that they’d learn a lot from attempting the puzzles. The other choice, Dweck’s team explained, was an easy test, just like the first. Of those praised for their effort, 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. Of those praised for their intelligence, a majority chose the easy test. The “smart” kids took the cop-out.
i found this article recently and it got me thinking, a lot. could it be that we’re doing more harm than good for our kids/youth (whether ours or those we minister to) with all this “praise”??
the whole article is a good read and well worth the time.
i’ve always felt kinda weird at school when in the name of ‘political correctness’ teachers can’t tell a student that their answer is “WRONG” (when they are, of course). because after all you wouldn’t want to bruise or damage the kid’s ego. for those who know me, i’m not one to give out praise just to make someone feel better.
but this article got me thinking about the kind of praise i’m giving and in particular about the praise i give to my own kids. now i know that every parent considers “their” kid to be a genius and the smartest kid in town. but not every parent has my kids, and not every parent has Lara* kids! 😉 so my kids actually are the smartest kids in town.
and i’ve now been wondering if i shouldn’t tell them so much. i’ll be testing this out for a while and see what i find out.
anyways that’s about it, i just wanted to share this insightful article. any thoughts??
* at school my mom was a guest speaker for one of the classes i’m in because of the adversities she had to overcome in order to go to college. anyways, during her speech she mentioned that i learned how to read, write (in cursive no less), add, subtract, and do simple multiplication and division before i entered kindergarten. well now, when the students don’t know the answer to a question and i’m pressing them to try again, they now give up with some comment like, “no, mr. lara i wasn’t a genius like you when i was in kindergarten, i can’t do it.” they also know that our kids are homeschooled and presume that they must be child prodigies as well.needless to say my kids have good genes in them.
// today i’m thankful for:
1. nutella (soooo, good)
2. the girls finally cleaned their rooms
3. daylight savings coming early this year
4. dinner with friends last night
5. great deals on sport coats (95% savings!!! i got two for $8.60!)