Friday, March 16, 2007

Conversation with daughter- 11

Guy Kawasaki links to an article titled The Effort Effect, about Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck. It examines her thirty-year study of why some people excel and others don’t. The article postulates that people have two kinds of mindsets: growth or fixed. People with the growth mindset view life as a series of challenges and opportunities for improving. People with a fixed mindset believe that they are “set” as either good or bad. The issue is that the good ones believe they don’t have to work hard, and the bad ones believe that working hard won’t change anything.

The article has a sidebar called, ‘What do we tell the kids?” If you have a bright kid and you want her to succeed, do you tell her she is smart? No, Prof Dweck tells us ,because such labels, though positive, may instill a harmful mindset and all the baggage that goes with it, from performance anxiety to a tendency to give up quickly. Well-meaning words can sap children’s motivation and enjoyment of learning and undermine their performance.

Rather than praising their intelligence, Professor Dweck advises parents to focus on the processes the children use,. Examples :

“That homework was so long and involved. I really admire the way you concentrated and finished it.”

“That picture has so many beautiful colors. Tell me about them.”

“You put so much thought into that essay. It really makes me think about Shakespeare in a new way.”

When I read anything as instructive and enlightening as this, I naturally try to put it to use, at the first opportunity. So, imagine my happiness, when I found my daughter on her favourite sofa, engrossed in her homework. I started off with this perfect line, that would have made both Carol Dweck and Guy Kawasaki proud of me :

Me: That homework must be pretty long and involved. I really admire the way you are concentrating and finishing it.

Daughter: What?

Me: That homework. Must be long and involved. Admirable, the way you are concentrating and finishing it.

Wife, walking into the room, to daughter: What’s he saying?

Daughter: He is rambling something about how long and involved my homework is and how I am concentrating and finishing it.

Wife to me: Why don’t you leave her alone and let her complete her work? It is pretty long and involved and it must be difficult enough to concentrate and finish , without you interrupting her...

Me:I was just commenting that her homework must be long and involved and complimenting her on her concentration and her determination to finish it. Just as Carol Dweck has advised parents to.

Daughter: I don’t know what you are talking about, but if you leave me alone, I’ll be able to concentrate better and finish this long and involved homework much faster.

Me to other daughter: That drawing of yours has so many beautiful colours. Tell me about them……..


3 comments:

dipali said...

Ah, the amazing gap between theory and practice! And between known Appa and strangespeak Appa!

Usha said...

uh oh dont take it personally. Your daughter of isn't categorizing you crazy or weird - she is just trying to say how involved and complicated her father is and is at a loss to describe his many dimensions.

Anonymous said...

LOL ...

-Prabhu