What's the surest path to raising smart children? Tell them how smart they are, all the time, because it raises their self-esteem and motivates them to succeed. So believe many parents and far too many educators. But the truth is just the opposite, according to psychologist Carol Dweck. In her work, Dweck found that students with high-flying IQs who are repeatedly praised for their intelligence wilt when faced with problems they can't immediately solve. However, students who are praised for their effort--including those with fewer God-given intellectual gifts--are are much more likely to rise to new challenges. As Dweck writes, students who are told they're smart would rather "look smart" than "risk making mistakes" with difficult material and look dumb. Some schools are starting to pay attention to the research, and they've enjoyed good results. Even Dr. Roy Baumeister, once a leading proponent of traditional self-esteem building, has seen the light. Looks like the "ninety-nine percent perspiration crowd" has it right. Someone please tell Charles Murray.
"How Not to Talk to Your Kids," by Po Bronson, New York Magazine, February 19, 2007
"Students' View of Intelligence Can Help Grades," by Michelle Trudeau, Morning Edition, February 15, 2007