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Education Math Stats Science

It's Dumb To Tell Kids They're Smart 243

theodp writes Over at Khan Academy, Salman Khan explains Why I'm Cautious About Telling My Son He's Smart. "Recently," writes Khan, "I put into practice research I had been reading about for the past few years: I decided to praise my son not when he succeeded at things he was already good at, but when he persevered with things that he found difficult. I stressed to him that by struggling, your brain grows. Between the deep body of research on the field of learning mindsets and this personal experience with my son, I am more convinced than ever that mindsets toward learning could matter more than anything else we teach." According to Dr. Carol Dweck, who Khan cites, the secret to raising smart kids is not telling kids that they are. A focus on effort — not on intelligence or ability — says Dweck, is key to success in school and in life.
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It's Dumb To Tell Kids They're Smart

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  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @12:49PM (#47736915) Journal

    But if you don't puff up your offspring with enough praise early one, how will they have the iron-cast confidence to windbag their way to the top in todays bullshit world?

    You didn't read the articles. The point uncovered in the research is that telling kids they are smart gives them less confidence (presumably because they are afraid failure means they are not smart, so they are afraid to try).

    When you are raising kids, and he accomplishes something, you have two options (actually more, but these are under consideration here):
    1) Say, "you succeeded! You must be so smart!"
    2) Say, "you succeeded! You must have worked hard!"

    Eventually your kid is going to fail, because we all do, know matter how smart we are, and kid #1 is going to say inside himself, "oh, I am not smart. Maybe if I don't try next time, no one will notice." Kid #2 will say inside himself, "oh, I failed. Maybe next time if I work harder, I will succeed."

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @12:55PM (#47736949) Journal

    I also figured out that intelligence was a liability, and I've still seen very few environments where that wasn't true, and all of those only well after childhood.

    Intelligence isn't a liability. Trying to tell other people they are wrong all the time is a liability. Telling people, "I am smarter than you, so you are wrong" is a liability.

    Intelligence isn't a liability, but the interpersonal skills you developed around your intelligence might be. (If you're so smart, you should have figured this out by now. Maybe you need to work harder).

  • Re:No no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @01:04PM (#47737011) Homepage Journal

    "No, son, you're not smart. Everyone else is stupid, and they're interested in boring things, and they always take the path of least resistance. The path of least resistance is mostly safe, but if you want to be anyone you have to make your own way."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23, 2014 @01:39PM (#47737193)

    Import talent from abroad? Yes, it definitely works. You only need someplace to dump stupid americans into, to make room for the talented immigrants.

  • by eulernet ( 1132389 ) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @01:40PM (#47737203)

    "oh, I failed. Maybe next time if I work harder, I will succeed."

    And this is why we have so much people working too hard and filled with stress, because they hope to "succeed".

    The idea is to replace "I can do it because I'm smart" with "I can do it if I put more effort".
    Frankly, both of these are beliefs, and dangerous ones at that !
    What happens when you realize that you cannot do it, no matter the amount of effort ?

    Why not simply encourage curiosity and open-mindedness, instead on focusing on results ?
    Is the result so much more important than the way to do things ?

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @01:50PM (#47737261) Journal

    And this is why we have so much people working too hard and filled with stress, because they hope to "succeed".

    To counteract that problem, make sure your kids know you will love them no matter what happens.

  • by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <slebrun AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday August 23, 2014 @01:54PM (#47737291) Journal

    A cat's purpose in life is to wage psychological warfare upon you; it's only right and proper that you retaliate in kind.

    Dogs are for companionship. Cats are to keep you on your toes.

  • by Pulzar ( 81031 ) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @04:17PM (#47738001)

    I've figured I was smart when I was sent to a special school that only accepted people with high IQ. It was arguably the worse year of my life.

    I had the opposite experience. For the first time in my schooling years, I felt like I fit in, and I developed my social skills and found new confidence in myself. I was very happy to be there.

    Like they say, every kid is different, there's no universal formula to explain what will work and what won't.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern