You Are Not Smart.

  • Thread starter Quaoar
  • Start date
182
0

Main Question or Discussion Point

Check out http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/" [Broken].

Basically, the jist of it is that kids who are told they are "smart" tend to avoid challenges because they fear failure, whereas kids who are told they "work hard" tend to do better. I'm inclined to agree; I was in a gifted program in elementary school, and I definitely avoided topics that I did not feel I was naturally "good" at. What do you guys think?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

verty
Homework Helper
2,157
198
I don't think this is surprising. If someone is told they are smart when they do something, I think that seems to imply that if they do everything to that level of performance, it will corroborate that they are smart, but if they fail or do less well that it implies that that initial opinion was premature and perhaps mistaken.

Having been told that they are smart, it seems to me that they would want to live up to that ideal, and if they can't perform in some other avenue then presumably they would want to avoid that failure.

I've heard it said that one should avoid such comments like "you are smart" and say instead "that was smart of you" or "that was a smart thing to do". There is also the matter that parents tend to be proud of achievements and raise them to ridiculous heights. Children want attention, so they would typically avoid those negative situations like when they have homework that they can't do or when something bad has happened.

I think this is something for the parents to change. If parents don't allow their superficial pride to dictate the behaviour of their children but rather let them know and show them that most of the choices are theirs to make, I think children will be more rounded as a result. I've often heard a parent say something like "my son knows what he wants to be when he grows up" but often one can read that as "my son knows what I want him to be when he grows up".

Unfortunately, parents have ideas for their children that a child can't understand, and by telling your child who can't judge moral matters yet what is good or bad, by dishing out unquestionable moral edicts from on high, they will seek to obey them or shy away from failing to meet them.

In such an atmosphere, any protestations that "I will love you whatever happens" is not believable and rather misses the point, because the correct way to take that is "I will love you even if you turn out to be a wretch". Who would want to be a wretch, even if love was still guaranteed?

No, such moral burdens should be avoided and the child should be allowed, to a large degree, to come to a more full understanding of morality than "do what I say".
 
1,354
4
I don't know about you, but i'm dumb as brick. I'm certainly the dumbest guy i get along with.
 
Evo
Mentor
22,880
2,376
I don't know about you, but i'm dumb as brick. I'm certainly the dumbest guy i get along with.
Where the heck have you been? :grumpy: <taps foot>
 
J77
1,070
1
I think there's too much emphasis being placed on being smart, and levels of IQ, around here at the moment :rolleyes:
 
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,349
51
Basically, the jist of it is that kids who are told they are "smart" tend to avoid challenges because they fear failure, whereas kids who are told they "work hard" tend to do better. I'm inclined to agree; I was in a gifted program in elementary school, and I definitely avoided topics that I did not feel I was naturally "good" at. What do you guys think?
I don't think that's generalizable. There are a lot of kids who are praised for being smart who really aren't all that special, and I think that's what this is more an example of. When they get a real challenge, they aren't up to it, and would rather avoid it than risk disappointing their parents. There are other kids who are told they are smart, and still enjoy pushing themselves to do more and more challenging things all the time. Of course, they DO work hard, so it wouldn't be surprising they are praised for hard work too. If a kid is doing really well, but always takes the lazy way out, you wouldn't praise them for hard work. Likewise, if a kid tries really hard, but still can't do the work, you wouldn't likely praise them as smart, just as a hard worker. So, I'm not sure you can draw a lot of conclusions that the praise a kid receives shapes their behavior so much as that it's a two-way street...the behavior they exhibit influences the type of praise they get. And, of course, there are also the totally unrealistic, neurotic parents who think their kids need to be praised constantly, even when they haven't done anything praiseworthy. "Oh, look at that crayon scribble! What a beautiful drawing! You're a great artist!" If a kid gives you an unrecognizable scribble they just drew, you don't have to tell them they're a great artist, you can stick with, "Oh, thank you, that's very sweet of you to give it to me. Should we hang it up on the refrigerator?" Praise only what they really do well, such as being nice about giving a gift of their artwork.
 
78
1
I think there's too much emphasis being placed on being smart, and levels of IQ, around here at the moment :rolleyes:
Yep, i've never seen how IQ has anything with the ability to analyze information...

about telling your kid that he is smart all over and over again, it seem to have a bad effect, it makes children wish to stay up to the reputation, and by that either the child avoids things he's bad at, or he studies hard just for his environment to keep telling him that he's smart.

its quite a trend this days or maybe it always was, to learn out of perfectionism(my little sister sometimes sickens me with the way she tries to make my parents proud...).
 
Last edited:
Dr Transport
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,247
401
Another incidence of building their self esteem, a bunch of hooey, make the kids, even the supposed super intelligent types, work, work, work and if they don't want to attempt something because they are afraid to fail, flunk them and bring them back to reality. Everyone fails at some time in their life and most more than once.

I have a scout who has tested like this, super genius. He gives me nothing but grief and the other scout leaders cannot control him, they wonder how I do it. I sat him down and explained that he might be smarter than I am but he will never be sneakier or more ruthless than me and for everyone of his actions I have a counter action which to him will be illogical, after about 3 days he was esentially tamed and one of my best kids. He finally figured out that I was going to teach him more than he could teach himself that week camping.
 
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,349
51
I have a scout who has tested like this, super genius. He gives me nothing but grief and the other scout leaders cannot control him, they wonder how I do it. I sat him down and explained that he might be smarter than I am but he will never be sneakier or more ruthless than me and for everyone of his actions I have a counter action which to him will be illogical, after about 3 days he was esentially tamed and one of my best kids. He finally figured out that I was going to teach him more than he could teach himself that week camping.
Good for you! Hopefully the most important lesson he learned that week was that being smart doesn't mean you already know everything. It means you might have an easier time learning it as it's taught than some other kids, but you still need to put the effort into it, and everyone has their weaknesses where they need to work just as hard as everyone else to learn. And you definitely can't learn teamwork by reading a book. :cool:
 
1,354
4
Where the heck have you been? :grumpy: <taps foot>
Oh....around.

New girlfriend and what not, very busy.
 
Evo
Mentor
22,880
2,376
New girlfriend and what not, very busy.
Ooooh, a new girlfriend!!!! :smile: But....what about little Franzbear?
 
1,354
4
Ooooh, a new girlfriend!!!! :smile: But....what about little Franzbear?
Isn't he dead yet?

Or is he like the guys in the Holy Grail, who are never 'quite dead yet'?
 
Evo
Mentor
22,880
2,376
Isn't he dead yet?

Or is he like the guys in the Holy Grail, who are never 'quite dead yet'?
He became one of the "undead". He's locked away, but still alive. :bugeye:
 
1,354
4
He became one of the "undead". He's locked away, but still alive. :bugeye:
Awesome. I am responsible of bringing zombies into reality.
 
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,349
51
He became one of the "undead". He's locked away, but still alive. :bugeye:
Yeah, I'm still expecting those monthly child support payments for the little monster! :cool:
 
360
0
I'm inclined to agree; I was in a gifted program in elementary school, and I definitely avoided topics that I did not feel I was naturally "good" at. What do you guys think?
The only conclusion is = your school system sucks.
 
1,354
4
Yeah, I'm still expecting those monthly child support payments for the little monster! :cool:
*pulls out pockets*
:frown:
 
verty
Homework Helper
2,157
198
I have a scout who has tested like this, super genius. He gives me nothing but grief and the other scout leaders cannot control him, they wonder how I do it.
I wonder though, what does he want? Why did he join scouts? Probably wasn't given a choice.
 
Dr Transport
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,247
401
I wonder though, what does he want? Why did he join scouts? Probably wasn't given a choice.
I do not think he was given a choice, but since joining his social skills are much better according to his parents. In this case everything to him is a competition, for example, at scout camp they have a contest to catch as many of mother natures little creatures as possible, instead of taking a bunch of merit badges he spent a large portion of his day tramping thru the woods, streams and creek beds looking for wildlife. It emotionally devestated him that our troop didn't win. His response was the he went out and got X and everyone should have been able to almost match him so they could win. He couldn't come to grips with the fact that he only earned 3 relatively easy badges where everyone else his age attempted harder badges and earned 5 or 6. His favorite game with me was to see if he could eat and be waiting for me to finish boiling water to clean dishes, after three days of this I told him that if he kept doing this he would be the absolute last one done cleaning up his plate etc because he would have to stand absolutely still while everyone else washed up.....It worked because he physically couldn't stand still enough for me so he relented and tried unsucessfully the rest of the week to find another way to get my goat.
 
182
0
The only conclusion is = your school system sucks.
Wow, you gleaned that from a single sentence description? You must be pretty smart!
 
It wasn't your slime mold acquaintance, was it?
I suspect it was the guy I was going to transship the Teddy Ruxpin through.
 
Basically, the jist of it is that kids who are told they are "smart" tend to avoid challenges because they fear failure
I would agree with that up to a point. I fell off the top of the only IQ test I ever took (senior year of HS, administered by the school), and immediately vowed never to take another one in my life. In my case, it's a moral point: I officially have no upper limit, only a lower bound.

That test didn't go very high, I might add. It only went to 150, and wasn't administered under very controlled conditions (alongside the PSATs in a common room).

I do tend to shrink from a lot of conflict, because I hate being wrong. But directly contradicting that, it takes a huge amount of intellectual arrogance to tackle some of the problems I've taken on. People remark on that contrast fairly often. As one management consultant put it, "I've never met anyone so convinced of their own incompetence who was so certain they were always right." (Only he didn't put it quite so neatly: I cleaned up the quote for him and gave it back. I've forgotten the original. His reponse to that little stunt? "Case in point: do you have any idea how much gall it takes to correct me?")

I recently put it as, "If there's something 'no one' can do, there's a good chance I can, but the converse also holds true: if there is something 'anyone' can do, there's a good chance I can't."

I know a number of other guys who say the same sort of thing. "Look, there's a few things I'm extremely good at. That's all it means. At just about everything else, I tend to suck." A manager of mine told me one of the big problems people like me tend to face isn't one of incompetence outside their sphere of exercise, but comparative incompetence. He went on to say it can become a lot more than just an appearance, since they'll never get any practice at the others, and will never improve. Why would they waste their time doing something they are not particularly good at when they can instead be doing something they are?

That's similar to "fear of failure", but probably a lot closer to the truth. Given a choice between plodding along at a normal pace or scorching down the track, very few people will choose to plod.
 
Math Is Hard
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
4,491
28
I don't know about you, but i'm dumb as brick. I'm certainly the dumbest guy i get along with.
Me, too. It takes me half an hour to make Minute Rice.:biggrin: But who cares. Stupid is the new smart. :wink:

Glad you're back. I've missed you. So - who is the fascinating creature who has been depriving us of our Franzie-poo?
 
verty
Homework Helper
2,157
198
instead of taking a bunch of merit badges he spent a large portion of his day tramping thru the woods, streams and creek beds looking for wildlife.
I think that's understandable. What is a merit badge worth if you don't see its merit? In a sense, participation in such things should probably be voluntary with no stigma attached. Enforced team work and team responsibility is probably not nice at all.
 
Dr Transport
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,247
401
verty;1243861 I think that's understandable. What is a merit badge worth if you don't see its merit? In a sense said:
That's one of the main premises of scouting, working as a team. As for the merit badges, he will most likely need them to progress in the program.
 

Related Threads for: You Are Not Smart.

Replies
23
Views
3K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
29
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
3
Replies
59
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
2K
Replies
31
Views
5K
Replies
1
Views
330
Replies
31
Views
4K
Top