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Stop Praising Kids for Being Smart

(It does them a huge disservice)

<em>Edit Article</em> Stop Praising Kids for Being Smart

Illustration Credit: Everyone thought Leonard was a boy genius but Rupert the imaginary bear actually built the do-nothing by Matte Stephens

I’m a middle-school writing teacher in a high-poverty, high-violence neighborhood in Philadelphia. I’m fascinated with student motivation because my most successful students are rarely my most intelligent students. Every year the pattern repeats: While my students with the quickest wit and best memories often start the school year with the best essays, most creative stories, and highest test scores, my most determined and studious students end the year producing superior work with the highest overall grades. Why is it that the most persevering students gradually overshadow the students with the greatest potential? I began to learn that not only are intelligence and motivation very different factors, they are in many ways opposites. As educators, parents, and citizens, we need to be more concerned that our children are motivated and to worry less about intelligence.What Is intelligence?Robert Sternberg, Professor of Human Development at Cornell University and a guru of intelligence research, notes, “There seem to be almost as many definitions of intelligence as there are experts asked to define it.” Disa …

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