Just as the research promised, this focused praise helped [the author's son] see strategies he could apply the next day. It was remarkable how noticeably effective this new form of praise was.
Truth be told, while my son was getting along fine under the new praise regime, it was I who was suffering. It turns out that I was the real praise junkie in the family. Praising him for just a particular skill or task felt like I left other parts of him ignored and unappreciated. I recognized that praising him with the universal “You’re great—I’m proud of you” was a way I expressed unconditional love.
"Perhaps there's an argument to be made that devaluing the intelligence of smart kids is good for society at large; I just wish that people would stop pretending that it's good for the kids themselves."Ethereal Bligh: It's good for the kids themselves because being "smart" in the way that we're talking about isn't all that much more actually valuable than being good at athletics. It's just not that important. It should be "devalued" because it isn't actually valuable. The sooner kids learn that, the better.
"Perhaps there's an argument to be made that devaluing the intelligence of smart kids is good for society at large; I just wish that people would stop pretending that it's good for the kids themselves."
vronsky: I asked him instead, what parts of the game are you NOT good at? He looked at me like he had never thought of it before, then went down the list. I told him to concentrate on improving those areas and his strengths would take care of themselves. He looked at me like I was his sensei or something.
Ethereal Bligh: I communicate better with similar people and such people are more likely (but not necessarily) to share many of my values. But this sort of thing is true for other people with regard to many other characteristics, such as religious faith, or an active and athletic lifestyle, or extroversion, or wealth. The difference is that we don't commonly and unconsciously think of people who have an abundance of one of these other traits as somehow better and more valuable people. With "smartness", we do. And we shouldn't.
Ethereal Bligh: I have the sense that you and others are denying my assertion because you're like fish who cannot see the water they swim in. Being perceived as "smart" has profound and pervasive social consequences in our society. If it weren't highly valued, it wouldn't have such consequences.
Ethereal Bligh: The two words [jealous and envious] have usefully very distinct meanings. That they have become synonymous in common language is a regrettable loss of utility. I'm pedantic about it because I'd like more people to be aware of the "correct" usage of jealousy because it's a useful distinction.
Ethereal Bligh: Whoever convinced you that being smart is a key to moral development was conning you.
Maybe where it's really true is in that (still very large) portion of our culture that MeFi represents. The literate, high-school graduate, some college, white-collar swath. In that group there's a whole bunch of "above average" people with regard to intelligence, and within that group being "above-average in intelligence" is very poorly predictive of quality of life or achievement. But all those "above average" people almost obsess over this trait. Within that group, too, is where you find all these parents and relatives and teachers raving about how big of a deal it is and centering kids' whole lives on it.
Finally, in the realm of the broader claim I have seemed to be making about intelligence in toto—that it's over-valued—I do think there's at least some truth to this. I can say with certainty that I think that it's vastly overvalued by those who consider themselves intelligent. I've spent much of my life around highly intelligent people and I've spent much of my life reading the words of highly intelligent people as they struggle to understand the universe and themselves.
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