Tuesday

inspire // nurtureshock


i can't remember how i found nurtureshock by po bronson and ashley merryman, but it's a fascinating read. so fascinating that i couldn't put it down. i read from 7:00pm when the kidlets went to bed till 12:00am that night (and paid for it the next day mind you).

the authors have drawn upon an enormous volume of research (the list of selected sources and references seems almost as long as the text itself) conducted into the behavioural psychology and neuroscience of children and adolescents to pull together a collection of essays. each one thoroughly and logically explains why a commonly held belief about the way children and teenagers operate is totally incorrect.

in chapter one they deal with the logical belief that it's good to tell your children how clever they are ... and why that's totally the wrong thing to do. it seems that you're better off telling them they tried really hard, put in a lot of effort or did great work. because those are all things within the child's control, while being smart is not. kids who are told they're smart tend to underestimate their abilities and lack confidence when tackling new and unfamiliar tasks. they also underrate the importance of effort.

i found this a bit of a revelation, because i do remember feeling this way as a teenager. i'd always been told i was clever in primary school and most academic things came easily (with the exception of reading time on an analogue clock and spelling). when i hit high school i was a little fish in a big pond and most of the time i felt like a fraud.

i have a very strong memory of sitting at my desk thinking to myself that i just must not be as smart as all the other girls in my maths c class, that i had reached the limit of my genetic potential when it came to intelligence. i seriously wish that i knew then what i know now ... i can't say for sure that i would actually have chosen to apply myself any better than i did, but it would have cut out a whole lot of angst and self-pity!

as for the rest of the book, i'll let the chapter headings speak for themselves...

the inverse power of praise: sure he's special. but new research suggests if you tell him that, you'll ruin him. it's a neurobiological fact.

the lost hour: around the world, children get an hour less sleep than they did thirty years ago. the cost: iq points, emotional well-being, adhd and obesity

why white parents don't talk about race: does teaching children about race and skin colour make them better off or worse?

why kids lie: we may treasure honesty, but the research is clear. most classic strategies to promote truthfulness just encourage kids to be better liars.

the search for intelligent life in kindergarten: millions of kids are competing for seats in gifted programs and private schools. admission officers say it's an art: new science says they're wrong, 73% of the time.

the sibling effect: freud was wrong. shakespeare was right. why siblings really fight.

the science of teen rebellion: why, for adolescents, arguing with adults is a sign of respect, not disrespect–and arguing is constructive to the relationship, not destructive.

can self-control be taught? developers of a new kind of preschool keep losing their grant money–the students are so successful they're no longer "at-risk enough" to warrant further study. what's their secret?

plays well with others: why modern involved parenting has failed to produce a generation of angels.

why hannah talks and alyssa doesn't: despite scientists' admonitions, parents still spend billions every year on gimmicks and videos, hoping to jump-start infants' language skills. what's the right way to accomplish this goal?

plenty of food for thought!
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