Hard Work, Not Intelligence, Key to Getting Ahead

June 01, 2008 05:32 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
New research indicates that praising a child’s brilliance may be ill-advised, a finding that reignites an old debate regarding the relationship between nurture, intelligence and success. 

30-Second Summary

Writing in Scientific American, Carol S. Dweck reports that rewarding children for their intelligence can easily encourage the belief that intelligence is a fixed quantity—either you have it or you don’t.

Children with that mind-set lose confidence and motivation when they encounter difficulties in their academic career.

The way these children see it is that intelligent people shouldn’t have to work hard. So, they infer that if they can't easily succeed, they shouldn't bother trying.

Bad grades in a subject readily result in their either dropping that class or trying to cheat.

Alternatively, teaching children that their brains can develop if nurtured correctly encourages youngsters to work through challenging problems. They are more likely to admit their weaknesses and take steps to fix them.

Dweck writes that fostering a growth mind-set means telling children stories about hard work and rewarding them for their effort, not praising them for their innate talents.

The findings are sure to be of interest to parents who, so Newsweek has reported, increasingly put pressure on children as young as three to perform well academically.

One educator interviewed by Newsweek described kindergarten as “the new first grade."

Headline Links: Raising smart children

Reference Material: Intelligence theories, gifted children, and the ‘Mozart effect’


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