Saturday, November 16, 2013

Praising process and grit

It's not news that children develop better coping skills, internal motivation, self-esteem, skills and productivity when their efforts are recognized rather than their innate abilities ("Look how far your hard work has brought you," rather than "You're so smart!"). This article underlines the importance of this for girls in particular.

I'd emphasize this same point for gifted kids in particular, whose identity is in grave danger of being bound up with their intelligence, and who are often particularly susceptible to debilitating perfectionism. Students who can't get started on work, who procrastinate, have anxiety attacks, develop distraction techniques, cry, rush their work ("of course it's no good - I didn't try to make it good") - all these can be symptoms, not of lack of ability to do the work, but lack of ability to take the risk of not being perfect at first attempt. It is crucially important to support effort and celebrate the learning process that comes from mistakes.  

When kids flunk on their assignments - and sometimes they do, even our little darlings - it's  a great way to learn that their teacher trusts and respects them enough to allow them to learn from that and engage with the work again, properly. Effective learning takes effort, practice, and the knowledge that you are part of a network of people who care enough about you that they help you through avoidance and don't let you give in to insecurity. 

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