Too Many Kids Quit Science Because They Don’t Think They’re Smart, write Alexandra Ossola in The Atlantic
“For most students, science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) subjects are not intuitive or easy,” she writes. (Barbie said it: “Math is hard.”) Overpraised children aren’t prepared to struggle, Ossola argues.
Praising a child’s ability or talent too much makes them unwilling to take on challenges that might test their intelligence, Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychology professor, tells Ossola.
By contrast, talking about a child’s actions — “their hard work, trying many strategies, their focus, their perseverance, their use of errors to learn, their improvement” — builds resilience.
. . . we found that when we gave kids lots and lots of praise then discontinued it, they either lost motivation or they did a variety of strange and distorted things to get the adults’ approval back. . . . When you praise someone, you are making their actions and performance yours. So they’re looking over their shoulder and not owning their work.
Employers and career coaches have told Dweck that workers require constant validation and feel crushed by feedback. “We’ve created several generations now of very fragile individuals because they’ve been praised and hyped. And feel that anything but praise is devastating.”
Atlantic‘s Left-Brain America has more on STEM education. Here’s a story on introducing math and science concepts to preschoolers.