Thursday, September 4, 2014

Infographics Gone Amok.

So, there's an infographic running around right now, starting in Pinterest, and then on to a blog entry.  The titles? "How to Raise a Genius" and "Tips for Raising Smart Kids," respectively. In and of itself, I'm inclined to just ignore it and go. But putting the blog entry with the graphic just threw it over the top for me.

First things being first, the graphic.  I've included it here for easy reference. This fool thing is just full of ridiculous errors and sanctimonious bologna, and it's hard to know where to start.  And so... The top it is.  Raise a genius? Really? Because the tips below will teach you how to rewire your child, changing them from neruotypical and smart into gifted and genius.  Absolutely. Goodness knows, how much television one watches in a week has a definite impact on one's core neurology.

Limiting television. Generally a good idea for everyone, not just infants. But, if all the time the television was on when Mad Natter wasn't yet two was supposed to make him stupid, he seems to have missed the memo. Obviously, you don't want to park your child in front of the tube and leave them there all day. But implying that any more or less will make your child into a genius? Really?

Give 'em an instrument! Yeah, have you ever *tried* giving a cello to a little kid?  Or handing them a bow, telling them its name... and tried to then avoid the ensuing mess as the living room is now an archery stadium? Yes, this is again something that is valuable to children, we all know. Pounded into heads since "Chopsticks" was new. But again, I guarantee you, that handing an instrument to a child with an extreme psychomotor OE is going to most likely end in tears and recriminations... oh, wait, you didn't mean gifted kids, did you, graphic-maker? You meant smart, compliant children.  I forgot. You see, your use of "genius" in the title there led me to the conclusion you meant ACTUAL geniuses. My bad.

Patience. Dude, I'm Thirty-TooMany years old, and *I* have issues with patience. Hate to tell you this, but probably 95% of the population at a minimum fall farther to the left of the bell than I do. Pretty sure patience does not a "genius" make. Or... were you referring to the ability to stop and consider problems? Because the comment about SAT scores seems to imply not patience, but critical thinking. Two very separate things, IMO.

Make sure they exercise.  Oh.  Oh, my.  Oh, my ohmyohmy.  Have you MET Mad Natter?  Likely not, or you'd not put out this kind of tripe and label it "genius," but I digress. The kind of intensity that comes with genius often is accompanied by an intense need for movement.  Often, getting them to exercise is not the problem - it's getting them to STOP. But, again, you mean high-achieving, neurotypical children, and not gifted ones.  Silly me.

Don't tell them they're smart?!?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  You know your child is quantifiably different to other children, thus making them a target, and you're going to deliberately not tell them why?  I get not harping on the fact that they're smart. I get praising effort over results. These are important things for all populations. But you may as well just cut your kid down yourself if you send them out into the world with no idea of how they're different and that it's not a bad thing!

This alone, obviously, is its own blog post.  But then combine that with Mama OT's blog post, and I think I'm going to be sick.  Most specifically in places like this:

Isn’t that interesting? I know from experience that this is true — many kids I’ve known who are smart and “know it” do not possess the same work ethic or adaptive skills (such as dealing with failure) as those who are also smart but rely on their work ethic to help them succeed.

So, by your personal experience, which has no grounding in gifted education, the children who know they're smart (who are significantly more likely to be gifted) have less work ethic, or less ability to deal with failure?  Did you ever stop and think that perhaps that to these kids, they don't even try because they're terrified they'll fail? Gifted children are prone to perfectionism. There's a reason it took me ages to decide to really sit and write a blog. I didn't want to fail at it. I have a hard time knitting gifts. I'm great at it... but what if this is the time I ruin it? I don't want to fail, so I find myself up all hours in the week ahead of Christmas trying frantically to knit ALL THE THINGS so I can give the gifts I'd planned. And when you're intense... even the littlest things can hurt. I see every single error in everything I do. If I miss a stitch, twist it, or bugger up one single stitch in a sweater, I will see that stitch every single time the sweater is out.  It took ages to be able to deal with the fact that I will be looking my own failures in the face every single day of my life. Do you have to do that? 'Cause I've found that there aren't too many other people that have to do that. And maybe, just maybe, that's contributory to my work ethic and fear of failure.  Even better, I find, is this gem:

This was especially true in my career as both a competitive gymnast and gymnastics coach. More often than not, the gymnasts who were praised for their immense talent from an early age (like the “smart kids” group) were more likely to drop out of the sport or become extra lazy and whiney when it got “hard” than those who were known for their good work ethic (like the “praised for their effort” group). The gymnasts who had less talent (even if they were really good gymnasts) but a better work ethic were more able to successfully overcome adversity – such as injuries or poor scores – and ultimately step up to the challenges of the higher levels.

Incredible. Those with immense talent (again, most likely to be gifted), became "extra lazy and whiney" [sic] or drop out when things got difficult for them - not because they hadn't learned the skills to cope with their overwhelming fear of failure, or because they didn't want to deal with their own internal nitpicking of every single mistake they made in class/performance every day... but because they were lazy.  Yes, people who are not gifted can perform incredibly well. But so can those who are gifted, they just need different support - which is not masquerading as calling them lazy and whiny.  Add into this that again, we are linking giftedness with performance, and again I call shenanigans. Giftedness is WHO YOU ARE, not WHAT YOU ACHIEVE.  Full stop. And until people stop putting out things like this, trivializing the struggles of a small population while simultaneously asserting it's "easy" to become them...  Our gifted are going to continue falling through cracks. And that is just lazy.