Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Today Show segment video clip

From Po:

I was on NBC's The Today Show yesterday with Tiki Barber, Matt Lauer, and Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, once again talking about the power and peril of praising kids.

Here's the video clip:



FYI, right before the end, Tiki Barber concludes, "So we have a consensus - it's okay to praise kids when they're really young, but we need to cut back as they get older." We were running out of time, and I was swayed by his attempt to make nice, so I didn't interject, I only lamely smiled. In fact, this body of research was repeated on subgroups of every age, from preschoolers all the way up to Ivy League medical students, and every subgroup showed the same negative consequence of being labeled by praise as "smart." So it's not okay to praise preschoolers constantly, and it's probably better to get in the habit of doing it right.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raising my child based on social science research something seems a bit strange and impersonal. I'm going to praise her when I feel she deserves it and not worry about whether I do it too much based on a magazine article. I have faith in my own parenting and I wonder if perhaps we are too keen to read up on issues and apply rules arbitrarily to our own lives.

11:43 PM  
Blogger Po Bronson said...

I think you make a good point, that we are often too keen to listen to the strange new findings of science and not to common sense.

However, you should know that these findings are not some random result from a rogue researcher who just wants to stir things up. This is 10 years of excellent work, at Columbia and Stanford, in real public schools across the United States. The research has been repeated continuously, on every age group from preschoolers to Ivy League medical students, and every subgroup showed the same negative consequence of being told they were "smart."

In that light, it shows the praise movement of the last 15 years has departed from common sense. We took a simple idea - that kids could use a little encouragement - and pushed it to an absurd extreme, where it's "all encouragement, all the time."

I would ask you to consider tweaking your habits not because of "a magazine article" but because of the solid body of consistent research done by scholars.

5:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your response.

I re-read my posting and, in addition to my grammatical errors, realize that it comes across as slightly snarky, which I didn't intend. I guess I just wanted to bring up the fact that life changes and every situation is different and every child is different; I hope that your book will address the need of some parents to raise children in a more fluid, intuitive and organic way. It's not a magazine article versus academic research issue and I apologize if that is how it came across.

Thanks again and the best of luck.

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you make some really good points. I am school psych, and am exquisitely aware that many of us educators praise students for such insignificant "accomplishments". As I give IQ tests, I catch myself (as I was taught) saying, "Nice!" , or "Good job!" when the child gave even an incorrect answer (the reason, of course, is so that they do not become discouraged with the difficult items). I wonder sometimes if the child is sitting there thinking, "What's wrong with her? Everyone knows the answer to that."

However, with that said, I have always believed that the fact that I was labeled "smart", and was praised for being so, encouraged my achievement. I believe the research you reference, but I still catch myself telling my preschool daughter how smart I think she is (although she really is very bright), hoping that she has the same experience I did with the label.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous andrew wee said...

The segment certainly showed the gender divide:

While stephanie was going along the lines of unconditional praise, as a guy, i can identify with more merit-based praise, to reward purposeful effort.

And it's quite clear that blanket praise is only to come across as hypocritical when the child reflects on what they've been told.

3:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is up with Matt Lauer's hair ?? That has got to be the most sophisticated lighting I have ever seen on a daytime host.
And another thing, the conversation seems little stilted, the dovetailing of agreements and segue ways out from Tiki Barber's
You look like your on the edge of your couch, was it that awkward being on that set ?
Its not a hot topic, its softball, but I feel tense watching this.

10:37 AM  

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