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Already bought The Myth of the Spoiled Child? Then you're excused from reading this adaptation in Sunday's NY Times.

Already bought The Myth of the Spoiled Child? Then you're excused from rding this adaptation in Sunday's NY Times:
1:31 PM May 03 2014

Stashed in: Children, life, Parents, Parenting

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There sure is a lot of suffering in the world. 

Most people have to deal with adversity at some point.

 I could get behind the 1st and 2nd, but I don't think we need to be so harsh, as to not give praise for effort, as in the 3rd conviction.


The first is deprivation: Kids shouldn’t be spared struggle and sacrifice, regardless of the effects. The second value is scarcity: the belief that excellence, by definition, is something that not everyone can attain. No matter how well a group of students performs, only a few should get A’s. Otherwise we’re sanctioning “grade inflation” and mediocrity. To have high standards, there must always be losers."

"But it’s the third conviction that really ties everything together: an endorsement of conditionality. Children ought never to receive something desirable — a sum of money, a trophy, a commendation — unless they’ve done enough to merit it. They shouldn’t even be allowed to feel good about themselves without being able to point to tangible accomplishments. In this view, we have a moral obligation to reward the deserving and, equally important, make sure the undeserving go conspicuously unrewarded. Hence the anger over participation trophies. The losers mustn’t receive something that even looks like a reward."

Tying reward to winning makes it seem like winning is everything. 

This flies in the face of self confident kids being the product of  un-conditional parental love. 

And how does any of this connect to the "happy kids make more successful adults" idea?

What's the success metric for later in life that a childhood of deprivation is supposed to bring?

Unclear. Other than appreciation for what they have, the benefits seem slim.

Stack ranking kids is regressive and in most cases wrong.  There is a difference between trying to optimize overall competence & self-actualization vs. competitive systems where some have to be winners while some are losers.  Would you withhold training to some just so you can have a few that don't meet the bar?  Is it necessarily the case that you don't have enough time and resources to teach everyone in the class well enough?

Saddling schools with both educating children and aggressively and actively sorting them by capability is likely to be part of the problem.  If schools take it as their mission to identify winners and losers, then they are less likely to attempt to make everyone winners.  You shouldn't instill false confidence for too long, but if at each stage you publicly identify losers, some of those may accept that role rather than rallying competitive spirit.  Don't instill false confidence in failure.  That is a violation of first do no harm.  As we all know, some who seem like superstars in high school fail at life and vice versa.  People can develop a wave of enthusiasm, focus, and motivation at various points.  We should concentrate on how to make that happen rather than on simply picking out those lucky enough to have had it happen to them at an early enough age.  There are natural differences in intelligence and brainpower, but we also know that brains can grow and change through focused use.  (See London cabby training hypothalamus change.)  There is likely more difference between motivated and unmotivated learners than between people based on genetics.  In other words, someone disadvantaged yet motivated can eclipse or at least compete with someone not as motivated.

In cases where you need to choose a few of the best for something, do it, but don't imagine that it is more than a temporary state.  You cannot say that for sure until people are fairly old.

How old is fairly old?

There are a number of ways to answer this.  I would say the last stage is the point where people refuse to learn anything or change in any way.  This can happen from sometime in the teens to old age or never.  I'm not aware of a definitive test for it, but you can sense it in individuals.  Of course I wouldn't give up on a teenager or even someone into their 30's, but some people do seem obstinate against learning anything new.  At least in the ways of thinking, new areas of skill, new professions, etc.  It is difficult to differentiate between people who have become complacent and those that just will not learn even if they need to.

What I heard you say: You're old when you no longer want to learn.

Don't want to learn or can't for some reason.  It would be a good definition of old.

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