Something about Japanese educational culture I thought was valuable was the emphasis on Hard Work rather than innate Intelligence.

There is this image that kids who study hard at school, go to cram school, spend their entire life outside of school memorizing and studying will do well on the college entrance exams.

Kids are criticized for Lack of Effort rather than Lack of Intelligence or stupidity.

So here’s a study that says students who believe intelligence is an innate, unchanging skill are less likely to challenge themselves, feel helpless at their failures, and overall score lower in the long term than kids who believe intelligence is malleable (or that we can “grow” our brains.)

I think about how I treat girl1 and girl2 and how I say things like “You’re so smart” and I wonder if I’m setting them up for future failure? I am firmly in the “if you try hard enough you can do most anything” camp, although it’s something I DIDN’T believe as a school child.

Living in Japan showed me how far single minded determination can get you.

I guess I need to start changing my praise to “See how all that practicing paid off in your piano skills” or “You worked really hard at that homework” or whatever.

The scariest thing I read in the article was that those who believed intelligence was fixed

“… had negative views of effort, believing that having to work hard at something was a sign of low ability. They thought that a person with talent or intelligence did not need to work hard to do well. Attributing a bad grade to their own lack of ability, those with a fixed mind-set said that they would study less in the future, try never to take that subject again and consider cheating on future tests.”

Working hard as a sign of low ability? Lord help us all. What a destructive mind set. I want the girls to believe in hard work. Am I wrong or does there seem to be a shift in the USAian mindset from our grandparents’ “hard work is everything” to “quick buck from our intelligent schemes” generation?

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