Give us praise or give us death

Senad Besic, Staff Writer

It’s very common to praise children. Whether it is praising their intelligence or some great work they have recently done, it has practically become second nature for most people.

I know most high school students aren’t parents, but I believe people should be praised for their effort and hard work instead of their intelligence. And when I say don’t praise a child’s intelligence I don’t mean to call them stupid or idiotic, but rather praise them for the hard work they put into something. Even if they horribly failed at it and ended up bursting into tears, because if they actually did try, they deserve the recognition.

For example, I don’t know if this relates to anyone else, but for my entire life, I’ve been praised for my intelligence. And before you think I’m some stuck up snob that brags about this, I am going to let you know now that I don’t like it when I’m praised for my smarts. I actually don’t even believe I am smart.

All throughout elementary school and middle school, I’ve done fantastic in school. Constantly getting straight A’s, every subject was easy for me and I never had to study for a test. But once high school hit, things started to go down hill. Certain classes were making me struggle, I found out that I needed to study but didn’t know how to do so effectively and my grades started to dip.

So, in reaction to the grade drop, I did nothing. I just kept going along, hoping my grades and my intelligence would rise again. But no luck there, they both seem to keep getting lower.

What I could gather from all of this recent negative stuff is that, yes, it is partially my fault. I could apply myself more, but some of the blame also falls on others. All of this praise that I got for my intelligence did something to me mentally. Not in the way like it gave me the ability to read minds, but in the way where it made me develop a fixed mindset about learning and school.

According to the article “The Perils and Promises of Praise” by Carol S. Dweck, children can either develop a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. Growth mindsets are good, fixed mindsets are bad.

People with growth mindsets learn from their mistakes, aren’t afraid to try and learn new things and are more likely to aspire and achieve great things because of this.

People with fixed mindsets are the complete opposite. According to this article, I have a fixed mindset. If I were to be praised for my effort while I was growing up, I would have developed a growth mindset and could have potentially done better at school and new things entirely.

Now, I don’t know if mindsets can change so easily. Maybe if I were to start being praised for my effort now instead of my intelligence, I could change, but maybe it’s already too late. All I know for sure is that it’s not too late to change how people are currently praised.

Start praising a child for their effort and hard work instead of their apparent ‘smarts’. If you praise a child’s effort, it gives them a variable they can control. You can control how hard you try, but not how smart you are. So, the next time you think about going on the internet instead of studying for a big test the next day because “math has always come easy for you”, think again.