Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Parenting and Praise

I've been trying to remember to praise students for effort -- for figuring stuff out -- for hard work and perseverance -- but it is really hard to do and somewhat counter-cultural.  It's worth working at, though.  That's one of the lessons I learned in my Quality Instructional Training class last year.  A friend of mine just sent me this article from the Atlantic on "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy" that makes very interesting reading.  How to Land Your Kid in Therapy

I did  tell all my intermediate (4th - 6th grade) students that research shows the key difference in your grades is the effort you put into your work, and about half of them remembered that when I asked about in our end of the project reflections. . .

It needs to become a part of our mindset to the point where we don't think about it -- and, as this article points out, it has to be part of the parents' mindset as well.

I wonder how ready all of us are for the project based, student centered learning we're supposed to be creating, where teachers function as coaches and students solve their own problems.  Can we let them fail in order to learn? 

How do we teach them to be creative -- to see things that are not there?  Or have never existed before?

 The Milwaukee Art Museum -- with the "sails" open, with the "sails" closed, and from inside the museum.  All views look East, toward Lake Michigan.  They have very nice art, but the building itself is the most amazing part of the visit.  Weather permitting, they open the sails in the morning, close them at night, and open and close them at noon.  We saw the noon "show" and it was awe inspiring.


Bookworm Mama said...

Thanks for sharing the parenting article. Happily, it backs up a lot of my own thinking and learning about child-rearing and teaching. My parents, in my opinion, did an excellent job of balancing support and encouragement with letting me learn to deal with unpleasant things. I like to think it's worked pretty well!
My one concern with people reading this article is that they may take the portion talking about letting your child experience frustration, failure, anxiety, etc. and apply it too early. I can see people using that to justify the whole "cry it out" concept for babies, which is actually a very bad (even dangerous) parenting strategy. Snce infants' wants are essentially the same as their needs for quite a while, parents should not just ignore their expression of this needs, claiming they should learn to deal with it. Of course, letting a toddler re-orient him or herself after falilng or letting kids work out a problem in their own way (to a point, we don't need them beating each other up or anything) is very different.

Sorry to get so long-winded, but I wanted to make the distinction. Especially as a parent whose attachment style makes lots of people worry that he will be "spoiled" by our responsiveness. Solving all a child's problems is one thing, but loving them too much is not going to ruin them!

Lakeshore Librarian said...

I agree. Giving them a minute to re-orient themselves is different than letting them scream and scream when they're really hurt. And, of course, infants have a limited range of ways to communicate -- though I expect you've seen a lot, since you pay attention.

When my sister in law was pregnant with her second child, my brother said "yes, we're reading all the books again. none of them were true the first time, but you've got to keep yourself busy while you're waiting." I think we're in danger of being overwhelmed by too much 'expert advice' and that it sometimes outweighs common sense.

Even a good idea isn't an absolute; if you could write a set of unvarying rules, robots could raise children. Since that's not possible, humans are left with the most difficult and important job on the planet.

I'm sure you're doing it well. :) And I appreciate your insightful comments.

Pam Hansen said...

What an interesting article! I have three children -- two in adulthood and one still a teenager. If they need therapy, I'd rather it be for doing too much rather than for doing too little! But there is a lot to say for tough love. Letting the kid make a mistake (without putting the child into danger) and learning from it. Sometimes you learn more from your mistakes than from something that went perfectly.

Sometimes I think we praise too often and for stuff that doesn't deserve it. I make a conscious effort to give specific praise when it is justified. I think the key word there is specific, not "that's great", but "I really liked the way you colored the trees."

sPh said...

I had no idea about that museum - we will have to stop by next time we are in the area.


Fortune Cookie

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.
Frank Zappa