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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:05 pm 
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Lol... good read from The Telegraph...

"humblebrag" Now that's a word ! Like this "“My nine year old is reading Flaubert” before adding, “in translation, unfortunately” thus turning their ghastly boast into an even more ghastly humblebrag..." :0)

Your child is not a genius. Get over it

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking ... er-it.html

The desire for genius children is a powerful force in middle-class Britain and it's making everyone miserable, especially our offspring, says Alex Proud

I’m not being mindlessly provocative here, I’m being honest. Depending on the definition of genius you use, the frequency of the ultra-clever in the general population ranges from about one in 750 to one in 10,000. I don’t know 750 or even 75 kids. So, even allowing for you being cleverer than normal, your child is almost certainly not a genius. In fact, even if you take the wishy-washy, special-snowflake, Andy-Warhol-was-a-genius definition of genius, I would still bet heavily against your child being a genius. And what is more, you shouldn’t want your child to be a genius.

Which brings me to the real question: why do you want your child to be a genius? Ten minutes’ dinner party conversation is enough to demonstrate the desire for genius children is a powerful force in middle-class Britain and is responsible for more bien-pensant angst than all the ethically sourced products in the world put together. This unhealthy genius-lust drives people to say things like, “My nine year old is reading Flaubert” before adding, “in translation, unfortunately” thus turning their ghastly boast into an even more ghastly humblebrag.

However, even though the chattering-classes are to blame for all sorts of silliness, I can’t bring myself to blame them entirely here. For some reason, in this country, we start educating kids the moment they leave the maternity ward. By four or five, we’ve got reading levels and parents are fretting: what can our preschooler’s reading level tell us about his Oxbridge prospects? About a year back, like any good parent, I was freaking out over my son’s remedial reading level. Then, suddenly, he leapt two levels in a single bound. I relaxed. Only a genius would jump two levels in one day.

All joking aside, this is hugely stressful for parents. It’s pretty horrible for teachers too. They have to write doctorate-length reports on six year olds. I imagine this must involve quite a bit of creativity. I mean, how do you stretch, “Poppy is happy, runs around a lot and can read” out over seven pages? Of course, these ludicrously over-written reports just fuel parents’ anxieties. They scour the text with all the attentiveness of a terrorist reading a nuclear reactor user’s manual, desperately looking for evidence of genius, when 90% of the report is oatmeal filler.

Parents’ evenings are a kind of role-playing version of this. You sit down an hour late because the progression-obsessed parents ahead of you have overrun their slots and the poor teacher has to construct some meaningful and compelling narrative from “Your child is doing fine”. The content of most parents’ evenings could be conveyed in a text message; I often wish it was.

However, while the middle classes are not wholly responsible for our genius fixation, they must shoulder their share of the blame. Over the last couple of decades well-off Brits have got it into their heads that they can buy anything. Leaving aside this being a slightly distasteful, American notion (we should be better than this, and not so long ago we were) it just isn’t true when it comes to your offspring. You can’t buy your kids clever. What’s more, if they’re merely above average, by sending them to some hideous Holland Park hothouse, you’re probably buying them miserable.

This leads to tragi-comic moments. When a child’s struggles with reading and maths become such that the genius hat no longer fits, parents suddenly decide they must have special needs (which, of course, are likely just a speedbump on the road to genius). Again, this almost certainly won’t be true. Alice will read in her own time – and she’ll be much happier for it.

All this can be quite funny. It’s the stuff you joke about with your wife and your more chilled out friends after a few drinks. But there are real downsides too – and these are not so amusing.

In the state system this endless scorekeeping is a terrible waste of money. Money that would be far better spent where it’s actually needed – on failing schools and kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is notable that the Finnish education system, which is widely held up to be one of the world’s best, is not obsessed with rankings. And guess what, it’s a system that works pretty well for everyone, even the gifted.

In the private sector, there’s a slightly different dynamic at work. Parents get caught up in a kind of advantage arms race. They send junior to the very best school they can afford – as that could be the crucial edge that means "ivory tower", not "redbrick". But they fail to see the bigger picture. And the bigger picture is mummy and daddy having to work so hard to pay the fees that the kids are raised by nannies, meaning the school advantage is more than offset by the parental absence and stress at home. If, five years down the line, these long hours lead to a divorce, that’s going to mess Jake up a whole lot worse than not sending him to Eton.

So choose a slightly worse school and be much better parents. Kids love being around you. Talk to them, read books with them and play games with them; teach them to talk to adults. These things are just as important as test scores – and what’s more they’re the basis of happiness. It’s not hard. Or rather it’s not hard to understand, but it is hard to put in the effort day-after-day. I am lucky enough to have the option of taking a 20% pay hit to spend more time at home. It’s been about a year now, but I’m working up to the point where, if someone asks me if my daughter is on reading level 86 or speaks fluent Mandarin, I’ll reply, “No. But she’s happy.”

Perhaps a final question we should ask ourselves is: who wants their child to be a genius anyway? In her 2010 book Gifted Lives, Professor Joan Freeman discovered that, of the 210 child prodigies she studied, only six went on to be hugely successful adults. More anecdotally, it only takes a few years in the workforce to realise that the smarts that get you four A*s are of limited applicability unless you really do want to be a rocket scientist.

Rather, intelligence is a kind of “sufficient” quantity - and someone with an IQ of 140 won’t necessarily be better at their job than someone with an IQ of 120. They probably won’t be better conversationalists and they almost certainly won’t be happier. It pains me to say this but all that whiffle about EQ and soft skills is true. Persuasiveness, empathy, resilience and charm – these have far more day to day use than having read and understood A Brief History of Time, aged 14.

In fact, I’ve always thought that there should be a class at the top universities, perhaps a week before graduation. Here you’d be taught that soon, you will be managed by someone thicker than you. And not only that, but they’ll be better at their job than you are – and a decent person.

So, as I say, your child is not a genius – and you should be thankful for this.

_________________
"The only one rehab centre that I long to be in, is the 11+ Rehab Centre" a quote by MSC :-)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:35 pm 
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Amber......are you writing for the Telegraph under a pseudonym??!!!!!!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:15 pm 
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Love the article! In life many of the children and adults that are considered Geniuses (not sure I have spelt that right obviously I am not in the genius category myself) are a bit lacking in other areas, in particular the social aspect, they can't relate to other people etc. Would much rather have my fairly bright sociable, chatty DD than an unsociable genius!!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:36 pm 
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When asked what I want my DC to be when they grow up, I always reply 'happy'.
Failing that, having a hairdresser and a car mechanic in the family would save me a fortune ... :D

JD


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:45 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:24 pm
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Location: West Essex
I enjoyed this article too. :D

So true that once you are reasonably bright, qualities like social skills, resilience, energy, empathy and initiative matter so much more.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:34 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:20 pm
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A few things sprung to mind although I enjoyed the article and broadly agree:

Grammar schools etc often attract the best teachers & offer a better quality of education - one reason parents push children and value academics more than they might otherwise.

Those children who are perceived as being the most able often get the best teachers and the best resources. For example the very best and dedicated Maths & literacy specialists often taking the top set (they need to as some of the children will have attainment and ability that will challenge a non specialist). Another reason parents push?

Also I think the system is to blame for so much parental anxiety. In some schools I am familiar with the Y7s have already been effectively pigeon-holed with their ballpark GCSE grades and are set on a trajectory, the level 3s at the end of KS1 have to do well (make expected progress at least) or the school will have Ofsted on its case etc…

Something else I note at the moment is that there is this feeling that it is 'bad' and it will make children unhappy if they 'strive' towards anything academic above and beyond what happens in school. There is a joy in the academics that should be celebrated and championed I think, children should be encouraged to read widely outside of school etc. I feel there is this growing sentiment that if academics are not stopped at the school gate we are condemning our children to a life of unhappiness? Why shouldn't children be encouraged to develop their minds and work hard as well as everything else we might wish for them? Sending a message, you are not a genius, let's kick back, be mediocre and watch TV and have a laugh are good things?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:37 pm 
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Location: West Essex
I think you make a good point Cranleigh.

It's just, when we are all pushing our kids, for all the good reasons you outlined, it's good to keep perspective...at least amongst ourselves :lol:


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:59 pm 
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I love the phrase "you can't buy your kids clever" much classier than "you can't polish a turd"!

I have to say that around here the most obsessed parents are the aspiring middle classes, with the middle classes safely tucked up with property portfolios and trust funds, education becomes less of an issue. As a family we are on the way down the structure...too many bad marriage choices along the way. :lol: but we don't care.

My kids are far from genius, and my little man does not want to go to grammar at all, but he does want to do his best and be proud of his achievements. I have had mums telling me I should give him a go etc, but the only reason I am diy 11+ tutoring him is because he wants to "get over 100" He would get upset by less, as he sets himself reasonable goals for his own satisfaction, and is as stubborn as a mule if you try and change the boundaries. He is happier growing vegetables than doing well at school. :D

As for dinner party showing off, most parents I know either avoid talking about kids at dinner parties, or spend the time telling very amusing anecdotes about their teenagers latest daftie.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:44 pm 
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I think saying that middle class parents want their children to be "geniuses" is perhaps pushing it a bit far.

What is undeniably true though is that a lot of middle class parents want and expect their children to be brighter than average, meaning in the top 30% overall, or in other words grammar school material.

As many have said their primary concern is that their children will be happy. But what does this really mean? To most middle class people their idea of happiness means being succesful, having a well paid and interesting career, living in a nice house in a nice neighbourhood with a nice car and enjoying nice foreign holidays, evenings out in nice restaursants or the theater etc etc.

And to achieve all this they believe that the best way is via getting a good education, good exam results, a university degree that will lead to a good career which will enable them to afford the enjoyable life mentioned above.

This is what drives pushy middle class parents IMO.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:16 pm 
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southbucks3 "As for dinner party showing off, most parents I know..."


...are too busy reaching for the next bottle of cheap plonk...in our house!!! :wink:


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