Things to Read - 3 Great Articles on How Kids Learn

cherry blossoms (1 of 81)-Edit

*According to this Slate article, new research evidences that when teachers show children how a toy works the children are less likely to discover different things about the toy then when they explore the toy on their own. Apparently kids will often just mimmic the teacher's directions even when more novel uses exist. According to the article, "[d]irect instruction really can limit young children's learning. Teaching is a very effective way to get children to learn something specific—this tube squeaks, say, or a squish then a press then a pull causes the music to play. But it also makes children less likely to discover unexpected information and to draw unexpected conclusions." Makes sense to me.

*According to this Newsweek article for the first time ever U.S. "creativity" is declining, with the fastest decline occurring in children aged kindergarten through 6th grade. This is not a good thing, especially since other countries (including China) are making creativity a focus of their educational systems.

*This Huffington Post article summarizes new research which "found that Bright Girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up; the higher the girls' IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel. In fact, the straight-A girls showed the most helpless responses. Bright boys, on the other hand, saw the difficult material as a challenge, and found it energizing. They were more likely to redouble their efforts rather than give up." Why is this? According to the author, "Most likely, it has to do with the kinds of feedback we get from parents and teachers as young children. Girls, who develop self-control earlier and are better able to follow instructions, are often praised for their 'goodness.' When we do well in school, we are told that we are 'so smart,' 'so clever,' or 'such a good student.' This kind of praise implies that traits like smartness, cleverness and goodness are qualities you either have or you don't. Boys, on the other hand, are a handful. Just trying to get boys to sit still and pay attention is a real challenge for any parent or teacher. As a result, boys are given a lot more feedback that emphasizes effort (e.g., 'If you would just pay attention you could learn this,' 'If you would just try a little harder you could get it right.') The net result: When learning something new is truly difficult, girls take it as sign that they aren't 'good' and 'smart,' and boys take it as a sign to pay attention and try harder."

*For two more great articles on how best to educate kids (and the importance of "play"), click here and scroll down to the bottom of the post.

*And since my Nurture Shock post received quite a few hits, I thought I'd forward along this Snoburbia post on how race is addressed in the "snoburbs", which I found very interesting (and true).


  1. I read that huffington post article because my daughter is very bright and she really does throw in the towel when she can't do something, but she has always done this. She is my least artistic kid, but still very creative. Since reading it I have tried to talk to her differently when things get tough telling her she can do it, but she still is very quick to stop trying. It is an interesting read.

    I loved that first article you mentioned. How interesting. I often am more of a teacher to my kids. I am going to try more not showing them the "right" way to play with a toy.


  2. Thanks for posting. I too have a bright daughter that throws in the towel easily, along with two boys I push to try harder and pay attention all the time. Hmmmm . . .good food for thought. Thank you.

  3. It's interesting, after I first read the bright girls article I posted it on facebook and almost everyone agreed - girls don't want to try at things they're bad at. i wonder if the article oversimplifies its conclusion.

  4. This is really interesting. I think creativity is one of the most underestimated talents today! And imagination too.

    Belly B

  5. Thanks for the links! I read the first article and can only agree with it. It also gives me new ways to argue with people who think that their kids already at a young age need to be teached everything (language courses, math courses...). If my daugter asks me something I often ask her back what she thinks and often she comes up with very creative answers herself.



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