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Monday, October 7, 2013

Messages we send our children about intelligence

'Smart' is not something you are, it is something you do.
Messages we send our children about Intelligence.  

We believe firmly in our home that smart is not something you are, it is something you do. 

 As a child, it was clearly conveyed to me that you were either born smart or you were not. We still send this message a myriad of ways, many subtle, and many not so subtle.  We group our kids early, we label them. We assign the weight to the  intelligent subjects that must be learned for testing, and dismiss success or aptitude in any other type of intelligence.  

 'Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.' Albert Einstein 

 What a disservice we do to ourselves when we define 'smart' as static, instead of a continuous process.  We live in a world of 'haves' and have-nots', especially when we define smart as something you are either born with or not. 

With this static definition, we steal a child's hope, and taking away their motivation to continue to learn.  Why would a child continue to try when they are defined at birth?

 'Smart' is an action, a process.

The smartest people I have met are not the ones with the most knowledge.   The wisest men and women I know are OK with saying "I don't know" and then earnestly seek to learn even when it challenges them past their natural abilities.

I dream of how world of a child with a  learning disability could change if we preached the definition of smart as an action and process?  That child could have hope for growth.  They would not judge themselves as one of the 'have-nots'.  The process of a child with a 'learning disability' just takes different road, but they still can take the road to growth and wisdom.  How you walk the road to learning is what truly makes you 'smart'. 

My boys are "smart". Yes,they struggles with place value ,and more often than not switches their b's and d's in handwriting, but that is not what defines them. And no, neither of them like being wrong, but I hope they is never take to heart message that being wrong equals dumb.   Learning to be wrong is the first step to being 'smart'. 

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