Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Praise, girls, boys, and us

Someone posted this article on facebook yesterday and it really got me thinking. The article discusses how women and think differently, but not because we are hard-wired to do so, but because of the praise and encouragement we receive as children. Because smart girls are likely to be praised by being told that they are smart, clever, or just generally good. Boys, on the other hand, who tend to have a harder time sitting still in school, are more likely to be told, "If you sit still and pay attention you can learn this".  Boys are getting the message that they  have control over their own learning while girls are being given the message that their intelligence is innate. 
Carol Dweck (who wrote the book Mindset- which I highly recommend reading) found that: 
"bright girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up - and 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 giving up."

Mindset is probably one of the books that changed my teaching the most. It truly made me reflect on what praise is and how I give praise to my students. I had never thought about the difference of praise along gender roles, or how that difference plays out in the long-run. 

Regardless of whether we are teaching boys, girls, children who have a difficult time settling down or children who are always quiet, hard workers, as teachers it is worth putting thought into how and why we praise our students. How much of an impact do our simple praises have for students in the long run?


luckeyfrog said...

Thanks for sharing this! I'll have to check out Mindset.

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

Julia said...

This sounds like an interesting book, I'll check it out this summer! I need more summer reading, any more recommendations?