Monday, May 07, 2012

This seems so obvious to me

Tenacity is necessary for college success.

The problem is, how do we teach it? I think that learning tenacity is something kids get when they're little - so it's the parents' responsibility. But I think the current atmosphere of bubble-wrapping kids and "protecting" them from failure works against a tendency to develop tenacity.

I've heard about studies where parents had kids who were learning to walk or run, and the researchers asked the parents to react differently when the kids fell down. Some of the parents helped the kid up, brushed him or her off, and basically said, "Go back to it!" Other parents rushed in, swooped the kid up, and made a big fuss about "did you hurt yourself, oh no!"

The result was, when the kids were allowed to run around kind of on their own, the ones whose parents had offered encouragement to get back up and try again, when they fell, they got back up and tried again. The ones with the make-it-all-better parents would look around for an adult, and then start bawling.

I see college students who are like this. Some, when they mess up in class, their reaction is, "Okay, that didn't work. I'm going to try something else to see if that works." Or they come to me for advice on what might work. Other students shut down and figure the class is "too hard" for them, or the professor is "mean" or they just drop the class. Sometimes they change majors. (I know people who have changed majors four times).

My mom often said, when I was a kid, "Anything worthwhile is hard work." That's true, and I'm glad I was able to internalize that lesson. I just cringe a bit when I see people who are parents of young kids wanting to "protect" them from having to do things that are hard.

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