Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Emphasize Effort over Smarts - A good guide for kids

There is an interesting article about how those who attribute acheivement to innate intelligence ultimately fare far worse thant hose who attribute acheivement to hard work.

I can see why this would be the case. It is certainly something I will keep in mind with my children. I think I will make a conscious effort to praise effort when an acheivement is made rather than skill or smarts. I want to teach my children that you become good at something through hard work (and that you can overcome difficulties and failures the same way).

Now, as I think about this, I wonder if the same sort of thing could be said for those who go on and on about privilege. If one sees the world through the 'privilege' lens, thinking people only get what they get through 'privilege', discounting the value of hard work, then I can see that mindset being just as poisonous as the fixed-mindset discussed in the article. Better to focus on effort. If you think you are not 'privileged' then overcome that with hard work. You will probably do better than those who just sit around thinking they can coast on 'privilege' (if they even have it). In that way, I think the whole 'privilege' mentality is self-defeating.


Maya's Granny said...

Working with children, I have long emphasized the effort that they make, and I have found it to be very effective in their success.

However, with the issue of privilege, we need to recognize a certain balance. Paris Hilton has not had to make any effort for fame and fortune. If she were the daughter of a well to do orthodontist, no one would have heard of her. Let's not even think about if she were the daughter of a convicted felon.

It is possible to succeed without privilege, but it is easier to have the unearned position with it and one can earn higher positions when one starts out higher on the ladder. Just as poor children can wonder how they have been bad when Santa brings a pony to the Kennedy kid but not to them, so they can be discouraged if the truth about privilege isn't shared with them.

DBB said...

I can see wanting to make sure that your kids understand the difference between things they are given as a gift and things they earn through their own hard work.

Even if I were rich I'd want my kids to learn to earn their own way through the world - I'd help them start their lives as adults with no debt, but I'd not give them much beyond that. That's basically what my parents gave me (and they are not rich - they are just very sensible financially).

Paris Hilton is an interesting phenomenon. Though I bet, despite all of her wealth, no one would have paid any attention to her if she were not a young, skinny blonde. Which I suppose is a different sort of 'privilege'.