I read a new article – and YOU Need to read it too – written in the December 2007 issue of Scientific American. Although some scientists feel SciAm has been dropping the science ball the last few years, I’m not sure I’m qualifies to agree or disagree. Either way, I REALLY like this article.

So I’m a parent, a coach and a teacher. It is difficult for me to accurately reflect how much of this article I accepted before I read it. For a few years now a common comment I would offer my students would be – you learn the most when you struggle the most. They hate hearing that one by the way. Another saying I had less structured but used often is, “Do you think Cold Play just throws albums together? No, I read that they spend countless hours working day and night to put together an album they feel is worthy!“.

I’m not sure my students were impressed. I’m not sure they know who Cold Play is. As for myself, I only need to examine the things I have learned throughout my life to accept their premise. I honestly think I grew up in the ‘fixed-brain’ category. I’ve probably gotten myself out of that frame of thinking on the most part. Its hard to teach an old dog new tricks. But be it fixing bicycles, learning how to use linux, take apart computers, heck – TEACH, then I know the things I work at most I get the best at.

It comes out of me most as a coach. I actually dislike [hate] getting students who THINK they can play volleyball. Its the worst inhibitor of skill development there is. I like the students who THINK they cannot play. When I teach them something they discover they can do it and develop skills. I see it with tutoring all the time. Its the students who seek help that:

  1. know they have a weakness
  2. are honest enough to admit the weakness
  3. smart, yet confident enough to seek help
  4. succeed.

Sounds like the article doesn’t it? I’ll admit its tempting to tell your kids that they are smart and talented. Grandparents are the worst offenders. We all want to think our kids are brilliant. But inherently I’ve known to start teaching Xander, my oldest boy, to practice, practice, practice. Its been applied mostly to kicking and skating but he needs to know that to become good at anything you need to work at it.

I think I’m going to assign this article as homework reading this week. They need to start thinking as ‘growth-mind-set’ individuals. In fact I might email it to the parents. Hrmm, maybe I’ll let the school do that!

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids The Secret to Raising Smart Kids: Scientific American

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