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Coming to terms with my own experience as gifted

post #1 of 120
Thread Starter 

My oldest is 6 and in first grade at our highly-rated public school.  This is bringing up old issues in me that I thought were buried.  Has this happened to anyone else?  How did you deal?

 

I learned to read at age 2 and was reading things like the Dune series at age 7.  I don't know my IQ or where I stand on any spectrum.  I know I am a auditory-sequential learner and intellectually creative, but not artistically.  I was gifted but at a time where testing and grade advancement were frowned upon.  It was thought to mess you up socially/emotionally.  Didn't matter b/c I rarely had friends anyway until high school, when I was so bored that I started tuning out and doing drugs.  I enjoyed college and graduated with above a 4.0.  I did one year at Yale Law School but hated it b/c I always got so bored and frustrated with the one way that people and professors would look at a topic, when it could be seen in so many ways.  My personality orientation is that if I become interested in a topic, I will study it for long enough to get an understanding of the basic epistemology and theory, and then get bored with any detail follow-up, so long-term study drives me nuts, though I have a very broad knowledge of lots of stuff.  I was made by my father/allowed myself to feel like a failure for leaving law school, even though it was his dream and not mine.  I am soooooo much happier now, but sometimes feel a pang when I hear of classmates working for the President or being really wealthy. 

 

My oldest being in school is bringing all this up.  He is like his father, very social and personable and creative and a visual-spatial learner.  I didn't hothouse him in reading as a toddler like my dad did with me, yet he taught himself to read in kindergarten and can now read Time magazine if he wants.  But he rarely wants to, as like I said, he takes after his father in interest and learning style.  I sometimes think that if I had taught him to read at age 2, he would sit around reading all the time as I did at his age, and that would be better b/c it is how I "got so smart."  But then again, the fact that all my life I have only thought of myself as being "smart" has not necessarily been totally positive for my emotional development, as I feel like it forced a lot of expectations upon me (I'd go to med school, etc.) which I then rejected out of fear of failure, so I don't want to force my expectations on him.  So if you've made it this far, what it comes down to is this: I feel that I don't want my kids to only self-identify as smart b/c of the grief it caused me, but I also don't want them to not capitalize on their intelligence to make their lives easy/important, b/c I sometimes think I should have done something really impressive rather than dropping out of the impressive race.  I'm afraid it's going to get worse b/c ds2 is like me in personality and then I have dd who looks like me and has such verbal ability and then ds3 and he is only 7 weeks old so who knows what he will be like.  I need to get a handle on this now.

post #2 of 120

I just read this blog yesterday and posted it to my Facebook account because I thought it was so spot on.  http://www.mitadmissions.org/topics/apply/the_selection_process_application_reading_committee_and_decisions/applying_sideways.shtml

What we should be giving our children is:

  • Do well in school. Take tough classes. Interrogate your beliefs and presumptions. Pursue knowledge with dogged precision. Because it is better to be educated and intelligent than not.
  • Be nice. This cannot be understated. Don't be wanton or careless or cruel. Treat those around you with kindness. Help people. Contribute to your community.
  • Pursue your passion. Find what you love, and do it. Maybe it's a sport. Maybe it's an instrument. Maybe it's research. Maybe it's being a leader in your community. Math. Baking. Napping. Hopscotch. Whatever it is, spend time on it. Immerse yourself in it. Enjoy it.

 

I think these things kind of sum it up.  We should be allowing them to pursue their own passions, encouraging them to "be nice" and to do their (own, personal) best in school.  I think that by focusing on those things we allow them to create their own self-identities. 

post #3 of 120

I relate to this post a lot.  I also feel like it's important to avoid having kids build their self-concepts around being 'smart,' because it can be really crippling.

 

I am pretty worried about projecting expectations onto DD.  One thing that I feel is really important to keep in mind is that statistically she probably will not be as 'gifted by the numbers' as I was (I tested between the 1:10K and 1:100K range, DH was never tested or anything but he's pretty smart) because of regression to the mean.  I've been working in a child psychiatry clinic recently and I've seen a number of average-to-smartish children of very accomplished parents whose major problem in life is the fact that, well, they just aren't as intelligent as their parents.  I feel like every time DD does anything even mildly 'smart-ish' (she's way too young to be identified as gifted) DH is all jumping up and down over it and I really don't feel like that is a healthy way to respond.

 

Gifted is as gifted does, yk?  I've done reasonably well for myself in life but I definitely feel I would have been better off if the emphasis had been put on achievement through effort rather than on any kind of innate talent.  There's a fair amount of research that backs up that approach as well.

post #4 of 120
Whether one is smart or not, everyone benefits from cultivating discipline. I find most things easy to learn or obvious, but the discipline of making meaning clear to others helps me. The key to overcoming fear of failure and building self confidence seems to be in applying oneself consistently through a disciplined approach. Law school may not have been your niche, but you probably have some area of your life where you can see the fruits of applying yourself. Helping your children see the good in that area may provide a model for a healthier approach to giftedness than that with which you felt burdened.
post #5 of 120
Thread Starter 

Thank you.  I see several comments to the effect of it is better for bright kids to learn the importance of achievement through diligent effort and focus.  Maybe this was my problem as nothing required diligent effort and focus when I was in school.  If that is true, then ds1 is in trouble b/c he never has to work at anything.

post #6 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galatea View Post

Thank you.  I see several comments to the effect of it is better for bright kids to learn the importance of achievement through diligent effort and focus.  Maybe this was my problem as nothing required diligent effort and focus when I was in school.  If that is true, then ds1 is in trouble b/c he never has to work at anything.



There is something in some aspect of life that would require effort of him that he would love. For some kids its music, for some it's sports (my kids swam competitively for years) and for some it's something else (one of mine thrives on the pressure of being in plays). I think that when we limit the way we see our children to their IQ, we cut off HUGE chunks of them.

 

I also think that some kids are naturally more into reading than others, and that's OK. My DD who is a drama queen (in a good way!) isn't a huge reader. She loves being with people and DOING things.

post #7 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by mambera View Post

Gifted is as gifted does, yk?  I've done reasonably well for myself in life but I definitely feel I would have been better off if the emphasis had been put on achievement through effort rather than on any kind of innate talent.  There's a fair amount of research that backs up that approach as well.


When I first saw this research mentioned I was totally floored. It explained so much about my own insecurity.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Somemyrrh View Post

Whether one is smart or not, everyone benefits from cultivating discipline. I find most things easy to learn or obvious, but the discipline of making meaning clear to others helps me. The key to overcoming fear of failure and building self confidence seems to be in applying oneself consistently through a disciplined approach. Law school may not have been your niche, but you probably have some area of your life where you can see the fruits of applying yourself. Helping your children see the good in that area may provide a model for a healthier approach to giftedness than that with which you felt burdened.


absolutely. I struggle with this myself still. Thinking that things should come easily to me.

Both DH and I have baggage around these issues and we've tried to think it through and be careful choosing educational settings where these negative things will not be repeated. I've also been very inspired by some great books and ideas of learning- one good one to look at is "Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius" (not b/c you have to become a Montessori devotee, but actually I find there is some really good review of the research on learning in this book). Also I think that there is some book maybe called "mindset" and then there is also the book "nuture shock" which I think has a chapter that addresses the "peril" of praise and the negative aspects of kids valuing themselves for innate talent, rather than for their ability to work hard, and to grow and change.

 

I was labeled at gifted and in an all-gifted school that promoted an "innate" view of intelligence. My mom was extremely wrapped up in her own feelings of pride about my specialness, and took many long years to kind of grow up enough to let go of all that. However, my own family (mom and sister are both surely 2E) used to frequently say things that undermined me, suggesting that school was "easy" for me (it wasn't. I worked really hard in school for my good grades. The difference was, my sister also worked really hard and was smart and didn't do particularly well, but it really rankled me to be always sort of pooh-poohed like that). My husband, who is now an artist, just missed the cutoff for the gifted school and he was also left back in first grade (his birthday is 2 days after the cutoff). He felt always like he was dumb and a failure, in some part because of that. He was pulled out for gifted AND remedial classes until High School, when he stopped doing the remedial stuff. He's incredibly brilliant in some ways that were never drawn upon in school- like he'd never even seen a math manipulative until we were touring preschools or our son. I think DS shares his dad's visual-spatial learning style and truly amazing artistic talent, but luckily for DS, he is also socially comfortable, physically coordinated, and athletic (rather than DH, who was tall and gawky, and very shy). For sure there are some personality traits that can make life a lot easier.

 

Anyway, I hear where you are coming from and I recommend you continue to come to terms with your own experiences growing up... isn't that one of the big challenges of parenting? Having to relive it, in a way, and the fear that somehow we'll inadvertently repeat the negative parts of our experiences?

post #8 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galatea View Post

Thank you.  I see several comments to the effect of it is better for bright kids to learn the importance of achievement through diligent effort and focus.  Maybe this was my problem as nothing required diligent effort and focus when I was in school.  If that is true, then ds1 is in trouble b/c he never has to work at anything.


I have never had difficulty learning anything. I have been an autodidact for as far back as my memory allows and have an enormous base of knowledge and understanding, gained deliberately. It is certainly not all academic, either. My reason for bringing this up is that there are people for whom "diligent effort and focus" has a very different meaning than for others- even gifted others. I do talk to my children about practicing skills in order to hone them, but my main emphasis is not on trying hard: I emphasize rationally determining personal values and then aligning one's thoughts and actions therewith. Whether aligning one's thoughts and actions with one's values requires diligent effort/trying hard, or next to no effort whatsoever because it comes naturally, is all beside the point. I want my children to live a happy life.

 

To live happily, one must have purpose, which requires determination of values, and following through with purpose almost certainly requires knowledge, understanding, skill, and wisdom. It is neither here nor there how much effort one must expend in order to achieve one's goals. It just is what it is. Imo, any emphasis on the amount of effort required only segregates effort from the realisation of one's values (through accomplishment), when they are inextricably linked.

 

The decision to apply my effort is always an "if-then" proposition, and this is how we address our effort expenditure. It is incidental that sometimes it takes more effort to achieve one thing than another.

 

Granted, there is a significant conflict of interest when a child is required to perform, such as in a school setting. Rare is the child who views "good grades" as just one option among many. Also rare is the child who can rationally determine personal values with such a weight of imposition as the outcome-based/externally-imposed/rewards-punishments system that mass schooling tacitly requires of children.

 

I personally think it is a disservice to a gifted child to require that s/he undertake activities that require trying hard for the sake of requiring him/her to try hard: for what? It just doesn't address the larger picture and life of the individual. I don't waste my time doing arbitrary things just to make myself try hard. I do what interests me, and some aspects of doing so require more focus, more attention, more effort than others. This is not a big deal if a person has a foundation of rationally determined personal values; to him/her, trying hard is an irrelevant distinction. S/he simply does what it takes to accomplish the desired process and outcome. I wouldn't address effort in any other way than "if-then" propositions because that is really the issue. "If" you want to be an aeronautics engineer, "then" you will do the work to gain the skills necessary to do so. "If" you want to raise rabbits for meat, "then" you must do the work that provides the necessities for doing so. You must build a hutch with a protected warren area, which means you'll need to use tools and materials, which means learning how to use those tools, and how to properly manipulate the materials to construct the hutch, which is necessary for keeping the rabbits- "if" you want this, "then" you will do what is necessary to have it. I don't see any reason to discuss the perceived amount of effort whatsoever; it is incidental to the goal.

 

But that's just me. I detest both the assumption that I must have tried hard to accomplish what I have, and equally, that my pride in my accomplishments should be directly proportionate to how hard I tried/how much effort I expended. I treat my effort expenditure as personal information. Why is it anyone's business how hard I try? It just seems petty to me. I am equally pleased when I accomplish something with ease as I am when I expend great effort. Why shouldn't I be? I have integrity of character to assure my own self that I am not lazy and that I don't cheat myself of the joy of productivity and honest work. That is enough for me.

 

smile.gif

post #9 of 120



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post





There is something in some aspect of life that would require effort of him that he would love. For some kids its music, for some it's sports (my kids swam competitively for years) and for some it's something else (one of mine thrives on the pressure of being in plays). I think that when we limit the way we see our children to their IQ, we cut off HUGE chunks of them.


I totally agree with this.  I didn't have to work at school to get As, until I got to college.  But I LOVED dance, and I had to work at that because I was only adequate at it.  It was a passion, and even though I wasn't THE best, I did MY best.    I was "bored" in school, but cultivated other things, and other interests outside school.  I loved school because I was a social person and just liked being there, bored or not.  I found other ways to occupy my brain while I was sitting there.   Being bored is a problem for some people, not for others.
 

post #10 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by emmaegbert View Post


Anyway, I hear where you are coming from and I recommend you continue to come to terms with your own experiences growing up... isn't that one of the big challenges of parenting? Having to relive it, in a way, and the fear that somehow we'll inadvertently repeat the negative parts of our experiences?


 

 

This is so true. Sometimes in the effort to avoid repeating the negative, there is an over-reaction (over-correction, I guess) that creates other issues. 

 

I think some parents struggle with separating their identities from their children's. They view their children as extensions of themselves. They encourage the same interests and activities and discourage (sometimes inadvertently or unconsciously) different pursuits. I find it helpful to reassure myself that my dc will have their own experiences, good and bad, as they grow, and they most likely will be different from mine.  

 

OP, if I'm reading your post correctly, you seem to be most concerned about the burdens of external expectations and nurturing internal motivation to achieve goals that are satisfying personally to your child. Encouraging children to pursue their own interests, to engage in self-directed learning and set their own goals from an early age will help nurture internal motivation to accomplish those goals. As they achieve those goals, they'll have the confidence to ignore external expectations. I think you should give yourself credit for leaving law school when you recognized that it didn't suit you. There are a lot of unhappy lawyers, despite material and career success, who haven't found the courage to make that change. You've set a good example for your dc to set their own goals and work toward them, even if they choose unconventional paths.

post #11 of 120


Why would you assume we are suggesting work for work's sake?  Obviously the child should be able to choose activities that he/she finds fulfilling.  It is simply a fact that when children are reinforced for their innate intelligence rather than for results that they consciously, intentionally strove to achieve, insecurity is fostered.

 

http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PreggieUBA2C View Post

I personally think it is a disservice to a gifted child to require that s/he undertake activities that require trying hard for the sake of requiring him/her to try hard: for what?

post #12 of 120

 

Quote:
I feel that I don't want my kids to only self-identify as smart b/c of the grief it caused me, but I also don't want them to not capitalize on their intelligence to make their lives easy/important, b/c I sometimes think I should have done something really impressive rather than dropping out of the impressive race.

 

I don't see why they'd have to self-identify as smart in order to capitalize on their intelligence.  So long as you make it a point to recognize them as whole people (and demand they do the same for others), and also expect them to do their best, they can do anything.

 

The way I see it, being smart is like being pretty or fast.  You can design your whole personality around it and obsess about it, but ultimately, that's pretty narcissistic.  I want my kids to be good people, people who care about others and who have the moral courage to act on that.  It doesn't matter how pretty or smart or fast or creative or accurate they are, because the moral person will use his talents to help others, not to impress others.

 

And just like a beautiful woman might choose a career that has nothing to do with her beauty, and a tall, strong woman might choose a career that has nothing to do with basketball, there is no reason a person with a fast brain should have to choose a career or field of study that requires a lot of brains.  My high-school valedictorian (who kept her GPA by staying out of AP... but anyway, she could have probably aced AP as well) is an elementary-school teacher.  I don't know what her IQ is but there's no way it's under 135.  She was sharp.

 

Not exactly what you'd think of as genius territory, but I thank God there are people like that, that incredibly intelligent and kind, who are sucking it up and teaching in public schools for the public good.  It's an honor for us to have her there.

 

Focus on doing your best with what you have, because you owe it to the human race, and you really can't go wrong, IMO.  wink1.gif

post #13 of 120

This has been on my mind a lot recently as well. I spent my school year being pretty miserable. I was the weird kid. I always questioned everything, and was seen as a trouble maker, stubborn, rude, or even stupid. My peers didn't like me much, but that was a two-way street as well. My teachers routinely accused me of having received parental help to write essays, because "I could not possibly have written that myself". I felt unfulfilled academically and boredom led to bad results in school, as well as general trouble making - since I already had that label, it was a pretty short leap. And the advantage was that peers actually started liking me smile.gif. It took everything I had and a move abroad not to drop out of school. At least school was more of a challenge when it was in a language I hardly spoke! I spent all those years thinking there was something wrong with me, and that I was inferior, or at least that it was "me against the world". Then I did an IQ test for a job, and found out what was really "wrong" with me. That was a huge relief, and very eye-opening. I hear those of you who say that the label "smart" was a burden, but it might just be better than "trouble" or "weird" smile.gif

 

My kids are four and nearly two, and are a lot like me in many ways. I don't want to kill their love of learning, their curiosity, and their personality. I want them to be able to learn as much as they want about any subject, and not just as much as the school system requires for a test. I also think it is important not to underestimate the social aspect of giftedness. I have decided to homeschool my children because I think it will best enable them to follow their interests and learn as much as possible, without the pressures of school - boredom and social problems. We also live abroad (and homeschooling is not actually legal here) and that brings additional challenges.

 

Thank you for opening this thread. I think we all encountered problems of some kind while growing up that are related to being "gifted", mainly a lot of heartache. Sharing experiences helps, I think, and using our own experience to make sure our kids have the best possible start is also healing.

post #14 of 120

My husband and I have almost-matching IQs (both between 150 and 160). Our DD's IQ is also in this range. DH and I were raised completely differently, though.

 

Formal education was a low priority in my family. The emphasis was on family togetherness, common sense, and work ethic (but not in terms of education -- more like helping with the family business, maintaining the house, etc). I went to schools that were far from academically rigorous and received straight As with almost no effort. The only things I ever learned in school were basic phonics and basic math. Everything else taught was stuff I'd already learned on my own, or stuff I memorized right before a test then promptly forgot (state capitals spring to mind). I was unschooled from 8th grade onwards. I never did any kind of extracurricular lessons or anything like that. I did pursue my own hobbies and interests extensively. I never went to college, nor had more than a passing desire to do so, and my parents never really brought it up either. It was kind of assumed, I think, that I'd get a minimum wage job when I was 16-18 and figure out where to go from there. And that's what happened -- not without some major mistakes along the way (my first H comes to mind) -- but always with my parents' friendship, though never with their financial support.

 

Formal education and career were very high priorities in DH's family. His parents are highly educated, upper middle class professionals. He went to a very, very academically rigorous school -- some of his classes were actually pretty darn hard, even in his strongest area (math) -- and that's saying a lot, heh. He was required to play an instrument and practice daily, etc. His parents emphasized academic achievement and career goals over pretty much everything else and were forever going on about how he wasn't living up to his potential. He was expected to go directly from high school to college, to delay marriage and family, etc., etc. Pretty much the mainstream "standard" these days, I think. What actually happened was that he left home in the middle of the night soon after his 18th birthday and moved thousands of miles away, married me, and started a family at 19. (His mother shat herself, quite possibly literally.) He's been starting and stopping college since he was 21 but is about a month away from graduating with a Comp. Sci. degree now.

 

The short version is that DH was pushed and challenged heavily as a kid, whereas I pretty much meandered through my childhood like a long stroll through the woods.

 

I have no idea if it means anything, but I'm a much happier person than DH and definitely have a lot less baggage. DH is in his last semester of college and really struggling to do the work he needs to do to graduate because it feels meaningless to him. I had an awesome career/business until I was diagnosed with MS (I still do, I guess, but I don't work many hours anymore). DH is dreading getting a job once he graduates because he has gone from loving his chosen field of study to despising it. Why? Because pursuing his interests through college has turned those interests into chores instead of enjoyable pursuits, and he still can't think of an academic setting as something positive. It does not help matters that his parents are STILL "riding his ass" to do well in school, get a job they think is good, etc.

 

I have infinitely better self-esteem than DH, too, although we both identify primarily as "smart"... mostly because that is what (in our minds, anyway) differentiates us more from regular people than anything else. DH does have doubts about his "smartness" at times, though he knows better logically. Above all, his parents left him with the lingering impression that his efforts weren't good enough. I was "bragged on" for my intelligence and good grades, but it was a much bigger deal that I was a willing participant in our family unit.

 

Thankfully, DH has been steadily recovering from his parents over the last seven or eight years, and we completely agree that our children should be raised more like I was and less like he was. We're relaxed homeschoolers (bordering on unschoolers) and haven't found any need (thus far) to challenge DD artificially. She does a fine job of that herself as she pursues her own interests.

 

I wonder sometimes if the motivational differences between DH and I are because his challenges in childhood were artificially induced (things his parents made him do), whereas mine came from within (subjects I chose to pursue). Either way, our experiences don't mesh well with the idea that praising innate intelligence rather than effort is a bad idea. I'm the one who was praised and "built up" for being highly intelligent, while DH was not and was instead praised for effort (what scant praise he got... but he didn't put in much effort, either).

 

--K


Edited by karanyavel - 11/12/10 at 3:36am
post #15 of 120



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post

And just like a beautiful woman might choose a career that has nothing to do with her beauty, and a tall, strong woman might choose a career that has nothing to do with basketball, there is no reason a person with a fast brain should have to choose a career or field of study that requires a lot of brains. 

 

OMG I LOVE this.  Where were you 15 years ago when I had this talk with my mother???  lol.gif  This would have come in really handy. 

post #16 of 120

You can post it on facebook when you know she's checking hers... LOL!

Quote:
Where were you 15 years ago when I had this talk with my mother???
post #17 of 120

DOn't be worried too much about your son, if he has your support and guidance and his teachers, he should be able to find his own path. Bring the subject up to his teachers, see what talented/gifted services the school or district has. If they don't have much, make a plan with the teacher to find ways to challange him. I was reading at 3 or 4, and when I was in kidergarden, in addition to gifted and talented services, I was often the teacher's 'helper'  being paired to 'tutor' other kids, or listen to them read. I guess I had the right personality to 'help' someone else. And the gifted and talented services got me out of the class room and with other advanced kids, we'd do Junior Great Books series, Odyssey of the Mind, Word Masters, National Geography Bee, etc for a few years there, a classmate's mother, who was fluent in Russian, would come once a week to have mini Russian classes with the gifted kids.

 

I was one of those kids that everything was easy, or if it was gym or sports, at least I did ok. And my schools weren't hard or too challanging, so college was kindof a wakeup for me. I'm glad I took some college classes and AP classes in high school, it help a little. But I didn't feel like a failure, I suppose because I didn't have my heart or dreams set on any one thing in particular, I think that was becuase I could do so many thing pretty well, I couldn't choose or decide what I wanted. For example, I initially thought of studying Biology in college, well, the first 2 courses I got a C and barely a B, so I reevaluated expectations for myself. I excelled in Spanish, so I decided I should focus on something I was better at and had a passion for.

 

If your son can learn to find those qualities in himself, he should be fine whatever he does. Start with some music lessons, any instrument, or even voice.  Make a deal for a certain amount of time, say until 4th or 5 th grade, and then reevaluate. Don't let him quit anything too early. I'm sure there were plenty of times when I was little I didn't want to practice or go to lessons, but they decided I'd do it until 5th grade (started in kindergarden) and by that time, I had found value in it, I wasn't a prodigy or anything, but I began to enjoy it, and challenge myself, and to this day, even though I don't get to play often, I can play for the pure enjoyment of it. (if music REALLY isnt his thing, then go for art lessons, drawing, clay, foreign language camp, whatever) Having those things "outside'  from the easy school work is a great place to find 'challenges' and opportunites for expaning their potential.

post #18 of 120


Please read the following with a kind voice because that is how I am in real-life. smile.gif I write in a way that sometimes seems curt to some people, but it is mostly because I literally have five to ten  minutes to respond, and my post is a stream of consciousness. In spite of this, I really do enjoy participating even though I choose not to spend a great deal of time editing for emotional content- again because I have five to ten minutes and want to contribute my perspective to the discussion.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mambera View Post


Why would you assume we are suggesting work for work's sake?  Obviously the child should be able to choose activities that he/she finds fulfilling.  It is simply a fact that when children are reinforced for their innate intelligence rather than for results that they consciously, intentionally strove to achieve, insecurity is fostered.

 

http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

 

I am unsure which "we" you mean; I certainly wasn't opposing a "we" at all. I was responding regarding both the topic and the OP's summary of what she'd understood from the responses she's received. I also don't think it's obvious that the child would be able to choose activities that are fulfilling either, especially in a school setting where there are arbitrary requirements of children and adults.

 

The article you linked is about praise more than anything, and my criticism of praise for effort would be equal to my criticism of praise for innate intelligence. My point was that addressing the amount of effort a person exerts is an approach that likely has no objective merit or benefit to real life. It can convince children in school to choose the "harder" puzzle, as in the article, but that just shows the conflict of interest I referred to earlier. Establishing personal values, rationally, is the real issue regarding one's exertion of effort in one's life, gifted or not. I wanted to lend OP support in her assertion that some people simply do not have to exert much effort to accomplish the same as others, and some people choose to exert their real, hard-working effort to things they value, which may not be those things required by performance in school. That the child in the article refused to do work that required him to be able to write in cursive, which he refused to learn because he thought it was hard, just shows the mixed up value system he is being taught is real. Gifted children and adults can be duped, too, and this, imo, is an example of just that.

 

If the child understood that cursive writing was the skill between him now and his later becoming the super hero he wants to be, there is little doubt that he would undertake to learn it. Maybe he wouldn't, but nobody asked him, and he was NOT given a choice at all! He was required, with no attachment to a value whatsoever. Being gifted, he likely has an intuitive sense of what really matters, and if it doesn't really matter that he learn and be excellent, or even just proficient, at cursive writing, then it only makes sense that he would resist being coerced ("cajoled") into doing it.

 

My whole perspective is that effort is a means to an end. But the end must be meaningful, and to be meaningful, it must be attached to a personally held value. Nobody becomes joyful about expending effort by being forced to do what they consider meaningless work for the sake of work, by attrition- at least not that I know of. Learning cursive for the sake of learning cursive, regardless of the effort involved by the individual, is not justified without a lot of qualification, which has not been offered. In reality, nobody must learn cursive to live, and most activities don't require cursive writing. In fact, most of the time, cursive writing is discouraged, while block printing or typing are required. 

 

So, I think that addressing the underlying need for rationally establishing personal values, is paramount, and is really the issue. Addressing effort is parsing the reality unnecessarily, and truncating the effort from the work from the accomplishment. I am advocating for a more wholistic view of the human being and his/her endeavours than addressing effort as if it were separate from values necessitates, erroneously, in my opinion and experience.
 

smile.gif

 

ETA: It seems from what the article reports, that the researcher didn't really grasp what was being tested or what the results actually meant. The results (as reported) showed that praise has a profound effect on decision-making in children, not that being praised for effort is better than being praised for innate intelligence. I would have chosen the easier puzzle regardless of how I was praised simply because an arbitrarily administered test with no cognates to my actual life, and the utter insult of being praised for completing such a low-level test, is truly a complete waste of my time.


Edited by PreggieUBA2C - 11/12/10 at 12:11pm
post #19 of 120

Ultimately, I believe we are better parents when we question our own hangups, and learn to identify what is beneficial for our children and how that differs from what would have been good for us as children.  Growing up, I don't recall anyone at all ever advocating for me.  Today, it makes me feel like a failure, like I took all the wrong paths, based on advice people would have wanted for themselves, but which was totally wrong for me.  Years ago I vowed to myself that I would make every effort to always do what's best for my daughter, NOT what I wish someone had done for me.  It's hard, though! 

 

I recently read "Work Left Undone: Choices and Compromises of Talented Women".  I had a really hard time focusing on reading it for my daughter, and not for myself.  It's a research- and anecodote-based synopsis of different fields and the impact women have made in them - or rather, the lack of impact - why they made the choices they did, what educational and social obsticles they encountered, and how their choices affect their sense of self-worth. What really impressed me was the broad definition of "creativity" used in the book; in addition to the expected chapters on lack of females in math and science, there were also chapters on the arts (where -  surprise, surprise! - they are similarly underrepresented in terms of output).  There were chapters on school-age children and teenagers, and the language we use to encourage, discourage, and stifle them.  The book also addressed some very interesting cultural issues faced by some women.

 

The school-age chapters are especially interesting for parents of girls, but I think there's valuable information there for parents of boys too.  The woman who lent it to me said "If I had a girl, I would want someone to tell me to read this."  It's about 10 years old, and I'd really like to believe some of the data has shifted in the last 10 years, but I doubt it.  It's a good read; I think you would relate to it.  Here's the Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Work-Left-Undone-Compromises-Talented/dp/0936386762/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1289590649&sr=1-10 

 

I credit this book for reminding me that I'm still young, and I DO still have options.  For the first time in 12 years, I am actually considering returning to school for the degree I always wanted (but got talked out of).  I burned out in college (not because the work was too hard, but because I didn't care about it), and thought I would never want to go back.  Now, I think maybe I do!

post #20 of 120

lurk.gif.  OP, I relate to your post and have been struggling with this myself recently.  Interesting discussion.

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