There’s a blog being shared on Facebook that you’ve perhaps seen. The headline is “The Learning Myth: Why I’ll Never Tell My Son He’s Smart.”
If you’re familiar with multiple intelligences and the ways I approach them, you know I disagree. Strongly.
“Smart” is a power word. All children need to know they’re smart. It’s even better if they know how they are smart. This knowledge is more believable, practical, and useful.
If children don’t believe they’re smart, they won’t know they can behave as if they are. They’ll think their brothers, sisters, and peers are the smart ones. They’ll be more susceptible to being bullied. They may develop academic apathy. They’ll apply less effort. They’ll look at something new or challenging and think, “Why bother? I’m not smart. It will be too hard.”
What point is the other blogger trying to make? Effort makes a difference. He and his company are afraid kids who are told they’re smart won’t persevere or use other character qualities when they’re unsuccessful. They’ll just blame their lack of intellect or talent and give up.
It may be true that kids who are allowed to rely only on their perceived intellect or talent will struggle if they attempt something and don’t do well. They may think, “I knew it. I’m not smart enough.”
Doesn’t it make sense to teach and tell children they’re smart and that using character qualities to put intelligence into practice in good and healthy ways is also smart? It’s not necessary to ignore children’s intelligence in order to activate character. The exact opposite may occur.
Those of us at Celebrate Kids, Inc., believe all children have the capacity to develop eight smarts. When they know how they are smart, they’ll be smart. They’ll believe in their abilities today and tomorrow. They’ll attack today’s assignments with more energy. They won’t readily believe the bully who calls them stupid. They’ll assume if an assignment or test doesn’t go well, they have to dig in and find more of their “smartness” for next time. But that will only happen if they believe they’re smart in the first place. “Smart” is a power word! It empowers them!
When you notice kids being smart, tell them. Share the evidence. Tell they why you’re glad. It might sound like this:
I know you’re word smart and picture smart because you worked hard to think of adjectives to add to your essay to make it more accurate and engaging. I’m glad because you remembered that we always write for the reader and I saw you edit your work with that in mind. Way to be smart with your smarts!
I know you’re body smart because you talked with your hands and I understood more about your passion for your friend because of it. You leaned in toward me and your hands added energy to your words. You’re also people smart or you wouldn’t have been able to figure out some of the things that might help your friend. I was impressed. I ‘m glad because you’re putting people first. Way to be smart with your smarts!
I know you’re logic smart because you thought of new solutions to consider. I loved the way you were curious, creative, and diligent. You listened well to my instructions and got right to work. You made wise decisions and have proven to me that you’re ready for more. Way to be smart with your smarts!
Let’s tell our children, teens, and students they’re smart, are smart with their smarts, and we’re glad they are!