The mindset that makes smart kids fail

By kate on December 1st, 2007

I just read this fascinating article (long, but worthwhile) about what makes smart kids successful and what doesn’t:

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids
Hint: Don’t tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort-not on intelligence or ability-is key to success in school and in life.

The results of the research really ring true for me. I was a smart kid, and for a long time was able to skate easily by on my intelligence. I was much slower to learn the value of hard work and effort (when it comes to mental challenges). Even through college, I was able to complete most of my coursework successfully without really breaking a sweat, so it was a hard trap to get out of. It wasn’t until I entered the work force that I began learning this life lesson. I would have been much better off had I learned it as a kid.

I’m planning to apply this idea to raising Ruby, and hopefully I can keep her out of the “fixed mind-set” that I fell into.


Filed under: learning
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2 Responses to “The mindset that makes smart kids fail”

  1. joe Says:

    Another thing you can add to this “mindset change” is to describe what you see instead of applying an adjective to it. That way, the child will know that you like it but the praise will be internal for them. “Mom, noticed how colorful my painting is. I’m an artist!”

    This is straight out of “How to talk so kids will listen, and listen…” which I think you recommended on your blog? Or maybe posted a link to another article which recommended it.

  2. Melanie Says:

    I completely related to this, both because I “skated” through school and last minute completion because I was capable… and because I am now seeing the same pattern catch up with my eighth grade son. I think that overall as a society we are losing those things which require hard work over time for the payoff – in large part because of the internet – and this is affecting young people.

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