There is an article in the Times today about the aspirational Middle Classes raising children who are risk averse and can't cope with failure.
I also think the growing feeling at the moment is that IQ is pretty much set and to seek to go beyond pre-prescribed limits damaging to children (despite the good work of Dweck and Syed etc). I think it's interesting Pre-Tests are increasing in independent schools and there's a growing feeling that these can't and shouldn't be prepared for. There's a larger section on them on the ISEB website with a link to an example. I predict the 11 plus is heading in this direction too. Ability trumping any prior attainment. Perhaps this is the fairer system? I also read that universities are going to move towards American SAT tests with the over-prepared or advantaged (due to literacy rich environment or similar) not making as desirable undergraduates as the intrinsically bright. It's possible to bit of a lazy slacker, but clever, and ace an SAT test I believe. Anecdotally, I know plenty that did
. Anyway here's an excerpt. Interested in what others think?
By 11, children need to acquire a level of independence, an ability to self-direct their learning, and self-motivate. Nothing induces apathy more than being micro-managed and told what to do. It’s like growing a plant propped up by a bamboo stick. It might look strong, but once you take the stick away, the plant collapses.1 Trust the school to place your child in the best group for his ability
Our paranoia, that if a child isn’t automatically in the top academic stream from the beginning, he is doomed to mediocrity, places huge pressure on children. Children develop at different rates and need to work at the level that suits them, to learn well and without anxiety. Even if you feel your child is capable of more, resist the urge to demand that he be moved to the top stream. Mixed ability groups tend to work together really well, especially with younger children, as they learn from each other and with each other. If you have to tutor a child for a school, it might be the wrong school
If a child has to be ferociously tutored and hot-housed for years to pass an entrance exam, the pace and academic demands of that school might be too much pressure for him to manage. Dr Suniya Luthar, Foundation Professor at the Department of Psychology, at Arizona State University, found in her research, published inPsychology Today, that the most unhappy, desperate, mentally ill children are those whose affluent parents drive them to be high achievers and are wildly over-protective. I see the same problems with children here, who go to independent schools. The schools are brands; they need consistently very high results, so the focus is largely on outcome. There’s not enough consideration as to what that pressure does to the individual child.Don’t schedule their lives
Give children space to be, to breathe, to think about things independently, to discover and explore in their own way, at their own pace. There is an idea that by the time children have done their A levels, they are who they are going to be. But so many very successful people did badly at school. Professor Sir John Gurden, who won a Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in cloning, was told at Eton that he was too stupid to study science. His report: “He will not listen, but will insist on doing his work in his own way”!Help your children to value themselves for who they are, not their achievements
Parenting has become a competitive sport; it’s not just the bag you carry and the car you drive, it’s where your child goes to school, how clever they are, and where they’re going to university. Retain a sense of the whole child, rather than defining them in terms of specific cognitive abilities. One mother told her son she’d be as proud if he went to the local comp as if he won a place at a prestigious grammar. He replied, “Yeah, right.”