I came across this brief Wired article that nicely covers some psychological studies on learning from one’s mistakes, and thought it’d be a helpful reminder of how to praise children . The latter half of the article gives an overview of Carol Dweck’s research on growth mindset, the belief that we can get better at anything as long as we put in time and effort.
It’s fascinating how a subtle difference like praising effort over intelligence can have such a profound impact on behavior and achievement. It’s especially inspiring to think about how something like the NGPM project can help liberate children from the fear of failure.
Excerpt from the article:
Dweck’s next set of experiments showed how this fear of failure can actually inhibit learning. She gave the same fifth graders yet another test. This test was designed to be extremely difficult — it was originally written for eighth graders — but Dweck wanted to see how the kids would respond to the challenge. The students who were initially praised for their effort worked hard at figuring out the puzzles. Kids praised for their smarts, on the other hand, were easily discouraged. Their inevitable mistakes were seen as a sign of failure: Perhaps they really weren’t so smart. After taking this difficult test, the two groups of students were then given the option of looking either at the exams of kids who did worse or those who did better. Students praised for their intelligence almost always chose to bolster their self-esteem by comparing themselves with students who had performed worse on the test. In contrast, kids praised for their hard work were more interested in the higher-scoring exams. They wanted to understand their mistakes, to learn from their errors, to figure out how to do better.