Monday, August 31, 2009

Nurtureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

In a world of modern, involved, caring parents, why are so many kids aggressive and cruel? Where is intelligence hidden in the brain, and why does that matter? Why do cross-racial friendships decrease in schools that are more integrated? If 98% of kids think lying is morally wrong, then why do 98% of kids lie? What's the single most important thing that helps infants learn language?
NurtureShock is a groundbreaking collaboration between award-winning science journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. They argue that when it comes to children, we've mistaken good intentions for good ideas. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, they demonstrate that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring--because key twists in the science have been overlooked. Nothing like a parenting manual, the authors' work is an insightful exploration of themes and issues that transcend children's (and adults') lives.
I found this book fascinating. Rather than using the old cliches of parenting, the authors do a survey of the scientific studies that prove what really goes on in children's brains. One example is the self-esteem movement. Bronson and Merryman talk about how the ubitiquous "You're so smart" talk that children are innudated with actually tend to decrease rather than increase their self-esteem. It makes them anxious as if intelligence is just a matter of luck. What truly increases their self-esteem is specific praise for actions that are successful. This would include items such as "You really worked hard on that problem" or "I liked the way you went back and figured out where you went wrong" or "Studying that vocabulary list several nights resulted in you getting a good grade". This kind of specific praise lets the child know that they are, indeed, in control of their performance. It reinforces the feelings that I always had as a kindergarten teacher; children know quickly if praise is earned or just false words.
The authors talk about other scientific studies that help parents think outside the box on other issues. For example, lack of sleep is far more tied to obesity than watching TV or children raised in a diverse racial environment often do not become more accepting of others unless parents and teachers emphasize that their are differences and that these differences are to be celebrated.
I found this one of the most useful books I've read lately, and I definately will be sending a copy to my children to help them in raising the grandchildren. This book is recommended for all parents and teachers, or anyone interested in helping children improve their performance and reach their potential.


Jenny said...

Wow, this sounds really fascinating!! I actually am part of the blog tour for Saturday but just haven't read it yet, lol!! And now I look forward to it even more.

Sandie said...

I was absolutely fascinated. I have a grandson turning 2 this week with a new baby brother, and I'll definately be sending this one on to the parents! Lots of great new information that wasn't available when I was having kids and teaching kindergarten.

DCMetroreader said...

I really enjoyed this book too! Also if you're interested in giving your children an audiobook version of this book I am hosting a giveaway here