Scientific American: The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

Posted by Kendall Harmon

* Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent—and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed—leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn.
* Teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life.
* Parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in children by praising them for their effort or persistence (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasize hard work and love of learning, and by teaching them about the brain as a learning machine.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology

Posted March 26, 2009 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Hey ...neat research. Maybe we can put together a government committee to organize the economy around the idea that those who apply a great deal of effort to meeting the needs of others well enough that those others are actually, you know, willing to pay for it and “spread the wealth around” might actually be rewarded financially for their effort.

Nah. Too crazy, and besides it’s unfair to those applying less effort.

March 26, 5:45 pm | [comment link]
2. Fr. Dale wrote:

On the other hand, our studies show that teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, helps make them into high achievers in school and in life.

“Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration” Thomas Edison.  Look around in the computer labs and libraries of universities. That is the group of folks who are applying the elbow grease. When I was in graduate school, those folks consisted of disproportionate amount of first and second generation Asians, Indians and Arabs.

March 26, 7:34 pm | [comment link]
3. DonGander wrote:

It seems to be a very good article.

I’ll never forget the impression left by one of the few good teachers I had as a child. Basically, he said that being dumb was not really a disadvantage - it just meant that you had to work a bit harder. He then proceded to convince each one of us that we were barely elligible for his class and our prior teachers were all failures - making his job so much harder. But, he would say that he was up to the challenge…..

That difficult but glorious year made the remainder of school, and even college, easier.


March 26, 8:26 pm | [comment link]
4. Dilbertnomore wrote:

They missed the most important factor contributing to raising smart kids - keep your children as far away from public schools as possible.

March 26, 9:38 pm | [comment link]
5. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Just as much improved and often superior atheletic performance can be developed within an individual, the human mind can be developed.  An unchallenged and uncoached human mind is not too different from a human body that is unchallenged and uncoached.

The human traits and environmental factors that can lead to much improved and often superior human mental performance include self-discipline; not focusing on wasteful pursuits that lead to temporary physical/emotional gratification; self-confidence gained from nurturing adults, including especially parents forming a stable family unit; hard work developing basic skills in language, mathematics and symbolic thought processes; a stimulated curiosity; et cetera.

They don’t include counter-productive peer pressure in school and the community, drugs, sexual promiscuity, obsession with pre-teen and teen culture, parents who created children but who don’t live with each other with the obligations of holy matrimony, an over emphasis on atheletics to the diminishemnt or even complete suppression of mind-developing activities, et cetera.

March 27, 7:01 am | [comment link]
6. Juandeveras wrote:

I found that being a truly and meaningfully involved parent is very important - sensing the need and appropriate timing for a tweak at a particular moment - especially true in two-household families - my kids turned out great, but I quietly pat myself on the back and simultaneously feel a real sense of accomplishment - very satisfying but a LOT of work and emotional energy invested.

March 29, 2:58 am | [comment link]
7. Fr. Dale wrote:

As I reflected on the title of the article “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids”, it should really be called “Factors in High Achieving Children”. Juandeveras, I would agree with you in general but high achievers are also from families where children learn to achieve in spite of a lack of positive reinforcement from their parents. They are the ones who put themselves on an achievement performance treadmill.

March 29, 8:35 am | [comment link]
8. Juandeveras wrote:

Don Dale
( Your name reminded me of the great and still-touring “Dick Dale and the Deltones” of “Surfers’ Stomp” fame in the early 60’s )
The “achievement performance treadmill” may be a factor, but I tried to raise my kids to blossom within their own unique parameters of personality - “treadmill” as you use it here suggests “survival” over the development of a balanced personality. I do understand that certain family situations are better than others and people have to live within that.

March 30, 1:50 am | [comment link]
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