Saturday, September 10, 2011


Shawn Achor, previously referred to, speaks of the pressure for "success", such as the pressure, the commitment, the devotion, the sacrifice of self and other interests or other aspects of your personality, or gifts or tastes, in gaining entry to Harvard.
He cites a mum keeping each baby and childish scrawl because "it will be in a museum one day."
Now, that's putting pressure on your child.
He demonstrates the problems for half the Harvard students, once they've arrived, in accepting that, in spite of these immense sacrifices, their great abilities and their extraordinary achievements, they are below the (Harvard) average.
There seem to be some flaws both in our system and thinking.


The Elephant's Child said...

I have long had problems with the concept that there should never, ever be any negative feedback. If all you have heard is how wonderful you and everything you do is, how can you accept being below average in anything?
That said: I could have done with the occasional bit of positive feedback as a young thing. I was in my thirties before I realised that I wasn't stupid.

Frances said...

Oh yes, EC. I was 56 before I realised that ...I was..ok.

Frances said...

I do not want to suggest that before that time my life was not fulfilled, usually happy and so forth.
Life is about it not?

Elisabeth said...

I'm with you here, Frances. There can be problems in both directions. If you delay recognising a child's qualities it is problematic, but too much false praise can also be damming.

I too suffered years of self doubt vis a vis my intellect given too much negative feedback as a child. The effects can stay around for a long long time.

Relatively Retiring said...

It all depends on your definition of 'success', doesn't it?
Some interesting food for thought here.

catdownunder said...

My goddaughter in Singapore is currently looking at universities. She is exceptionally bright and could probably get in anywhere she chose to go - Ivy League or Oxbridge or something else. I would like to see her go to a place where her personal achievements are valued and challeneged, not just how well she achieves when measured against everyone else. What do you think?

Frances said...

One hopes that somewhere between false praise and negative feedback, Elisabeth, there can be an endorsement of the value and significance of the person, child or not.
How sad that such is not the norm.

Frances said...

A thought provoking comment,too, RR. As always.

Frances said...

Cat: So much depends upon what your goddaughter wants from her education: an academic teaching life, a life of research, an intellectually satisfying career or a financially rewarding one. All valid motives, none of which preclude secondary desires like using her gifts to help humankind.

What path will lead her to being intrinsically richer?