Posted by Ming Ling on February 25, 2013
These serendipitous juxtapositions appeared in my news feed yesterday, variations on a theme of framing disappointments as opportunities:
“To avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard
“Unless someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
- The Lorax
That is: Action inspires criticism, and criticism demands action.
We live in a world where there will always be criticism, of others and ourselves, by others and ourselves. The challenge is not merely accepting the reality of such criticism, but embracing, evaluating, and acting upon it, thoughtfully and productively.
In “How to Listen to a Recording of Yourself Without Getting Depressed,” Dr. Noa Kageyama outlines three attitudes to adopt (and associated actions to take) to yield a more helpful critique:
- Celebrate the bright spots.
I would annotate this with reminders along the lines of, “That wasn’t always so easy for me [you],” or “I remember how I [you] had to work to reach that goal.” It highlights hard-won accomplishments as the product of effort rather than talent or luck.
- Cultivate a solution-focused mindset.
For every problem you notice, formulate a plan to solve it. Recognize mistakes as temporary but necessary stopovers to help you survey the terrain, rather than final endpoints.
- Develop a more optimistic mindset.
Focus on what can be done rather than what hasn’t been done.
I would also precede the feedback session by identifying (and writing out) the main goals up front, to avoid getting distracted by salient yet less-important features.
Without action as its counterpart, criticism by itself becomes a meaningless monologue.
Posted in Parenting, Teaching & learning | Tagged: Beliefs about intelligence, Feedback, Feelings of control, Learning from errors, Motivation | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Ming Ling on February 23, 2013
Again highlighting the importance of encouragement, David Bornstein describes several evidence-based parenting programs that reduce at-risk behaviors:
As he summarizes, “The essence of the research is that children do best when they receive calm and consistent feedback and assertive discipline that’s based on reasonable expectations – with significantly more encouragement and positive feedback than criticism.”
Posted in Parenting | Tagged: Feedback, Motivation, Rewards and punishment | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Ming Ling on February 23, 2013
In an interview with Paul Solman at PBS, Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman discusses the achievement gap, IQ testing, early childhood education, and parenting, framing the issues from the perspective of incentives and investment.
Let me give you a startling finding about achievement gaps. Suppose you pay children in the 5th and 6th grades, right when you think of the achievement gap opening up between blacks and whites, to take an IQ test.
Say you have unmotivated black kids living in the middle of the ghetto and white kids from Scarsdale or some other upper-class neighborhood. You give each kid who gets a successful answer one M&M — just give them an M&M — and you say for each point extra on the IQ test, each correct answer, I’ll give you one more M&M. It turns out that the gap between the black and white student in the IQ test scores vanishes — vanishes completely.
The interventions in the “enriched parenting” programs include the usual: reading regularly to kids, providing encouragement, and simply giving the kids time to formulate and act upon a plan.
We need to think about these factors as social investments which the children eventually internalize, so that they are better positioned to succeed later in life.
Posted in Parenting | Tagged: Motivation, Rewards and punishment, Self-regulation | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Ming Ling on November 10, 2012
Once again, “we would all benefit from more meaningful interaction and less labeling… along any dimension by which we divide humanity.”
From Tom Jacob’s “America’s Increasingly Tribal Electorate“, describing political scientist Lilliana Mason’s research:
“behavioral polarization”—anger at the other side, activism for one’s own side, and a tendency to look at political arguments through a biased lens—is driven much more strongly by that sense of team spirit, as opposed to one’s views on public policy.
According to her:
the only way to reduce the anger and bias would be “to reduce the strength or alignment of political identities.”
Yet I remain hopeful that, in spite of the dangers of the backfire effect, we can find ways to separate ideas from identities, and share knowledge both dispassionately and compassionately at the same time. As before: “Most of all, we should put wrongness back in its place– linked to the idea, not the person,” or the identity.
Posted in Reasoning | Tagged: Backfire effect, Conflicting beliefs, Perspective-taking | Leave a Comment »