(thank you, S.E. Hinton for a good book and a title that resonates)
When my dad was a boy in small town Newark, Ohio, the local shoe store had a fluoroscope, a machine that used X-rays to reflect an image of the customer's foot inside a shoe. What a marvelous way to both determine the fit of the shoe, and to soak up potentially hazardous radiation! I'm fairly sure Mr. Friendly Shoe Retailer meant no harm to his customers, and was hoping nothing more than to prevent aching feet due to ill-fitting shoes. A shoe shopper today would be more inclined to follow current guidelines.
I put my heart and soul into creating the best environment possible for my children as they were growing up. As one example, our nighttime routine included three read aloud books--so that each could pick a reading for us to enjoy together every single night. My husband and I attended to every need and looked for opportunities to provide a range of experiences beyond what either of us enjoyed as children. Our home was filled with happiness and laughter. We made sure our kids knew they were smart and loved. Wait! Zzzzrrrrriiippp! Rewind!
Why did I praise their accomplishments and admire their intellect? Now it is becoming apparent through the work of Carol Dweck that the way to encourage children is to recognize and celebrate effort, not achievement. All those "encouraging" words that I heaped onto their sensitive souls may have done more to turn them into little perfectionists with clipped wings than fledglings eager to soar. I should have worked with them to develop more grit, the stuff that's needed in this today's world. I didn't understand the concept of growth mindset.
Fortunately, kids are resilient. Mine enjoyed their childhoods and are learning to take their place in the world. And I am learning to apply what I now know about mindset to my relationship with my young adult son and daughters.
As educators, let's remember:
1. That was then. Some of our less effective practices of the past were our best at the time.
2. This is now. More is known about how young brains work, the social nature of learning, and the skills needed for success in jobs not yet envisioned.
There is always a next step for our work.