Thursday, June 3, 2010
I happened upon an article from New York magazine by Po Brosnan from 2007 not too long ago entitled, "How Not to Talk to Your Kids - The inverse power of praise"
Needless to say, I was intrigued.
As I read it, I was enthralled and kind-of sad, because I felt the case studies they were referencing in the article applied to me and it made me reflect on a lot. A LOT.
But, before I go there... let's delve into the gist of it.
Basically, the article examines the repercussions of constantly telling a child that he/she is brilliant, smart, etc. Those who are identified as "gifted" or who possess High IQs tend to fall victim to these repercussions far more often.
Basically, the praise backfires. Because the child is told that they possess above average intelligence, etc. they inevitably assume that everything they set out to do is going to come easy.
Unfortunately, regardless of intelligence, that simply isn't the case. More often than not, even gifted or highly intelligent students, (particularly those that are incessantly praised), get extremely frustrated and/or quit everything they are not immediately exceptional at.
Therein lies the problem.
I was identified as "gifted" in elementary school. I was always placed in advanced courses, including honors and AP through High School. I wouldn't say I was egomaniacal about it - but let's just say that I thought I could conquer and excel at everything/anything.
I thought wrong.
In fact, now that I am reflecting on it - I was always completely frustrated by what I could not do perfectly - and have thus adopted a series of hobbies/interests that I have quit after a rather short period of time.
Some include painting, sewing, writing, law school...
The list could be endless.
I don't think it's a coincidence that it has taken me many years to see this pattern. While I was aware of it before I read the NY Mag article, I wasn't aware of it until I hit 30. The article however drove the point home - and hard.
I can't stand anything I'm not great at. It's ludicrous - but evidently, it's becoming an epidemic among children today.
I seriously can't imagine an entire generation of smart kids who are incapacitated by the fact that they're smart. It's quite sad.
That said, it is the very recognition of that mentality that inspired me to start this blog. I LOVE writing - and while I have occasionally been told I'm exceptional at it - I have also been told the opposite.
Well, frankly, at this stage, I don't give a damn anymore. I'm just gonna write.
The full article from NY Mag can be seen here: http://www.nymag.com/news/features/27840
I nabbed the picture from the article too. Hope I don't get sued.