Sunday, April 04, 2010

NurtureShock (Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman)

NutureShock: New Thinking About Children is a book I've been wanting to read for some time, ever since I first read Bronson & Merryman's article in New York magazine about the effects of praise on children. I was already a big fan of Bronson's writing (see here, here, and here) and knew that he gives his subjects thoughtful attention, and here with Ashley Merryman, that same care is given to the discussion of recent scientific data on child development. (And I think that separates this book from most of the so-called parenting books out there. Well that, and all the scientific data to back up the claims!) Every single chapter in this book made me rethink what I knew (or thought I knew) about children. For example,

  • Praising a child for their intelligence makes a child less likely to try new things (it feeds a fear of failure), whereas praising a child for their effort creates the opposite effect. 
  • Children who watch a lot of educational programming (e.g., PBS & Nickelodeon) show more relational violence than their peers. 
  • There is a preschool/kindergarten program that can teach children self-control and self-focus, and this program is so sucessful in raising test scores that the at-risk kids it is servicing are no longer at risk before the program is over (which is costing the program grant money).
There's even more. I can't recommend this book enough. It's an intelligent synthesis of the recent data for the general public. One that treats the readers as smart and well-informed. Please go read this. Or I will be that annoying friend who always starts conversations with, "Did you know . . . ?"

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