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Ashley Merryman on parenting

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. Paul and I were actually supposed to be writing an article for New York Magazine on ambition. And I had been interviewing all of these power house guys in New York you know : what's your ambition for New York ? well I am an architect so Im gonna change the skyline. and everytime I put up a new building in Manhattan I mean Yeah. It's a good day ! OK... Go. And a lot of you may have that feeling, too. And I ask people, well... When did you first know you were ambitious ? Ive always been ambitious I had two full-time jobs when I was two years old ! And I kept hearing that again and again... and it started sounding like... folklore. of what an ambitious person was supposed to say. right up there with I walked to school ten miles in the snow uphill both ways ! It was the ambitional version of it. So Paul and I were talking and were like... but what if they're right ? What is the key to motivating a kid ? So we started looking at the science of it. And Paul lives in San Francisco and I live in L.A.. sworn the phone 4 hours a day emailing constantly back and forth. And come : Paul, Im gonna send you something... I want you to read it, right now. Call me back. - May I ask a couple of things ? - No ! I send you something. You gonna read it. You gonna call me back. - A... - No. And I hang up on it. I don't do that normally... Im the one not hanging up the phone. 20 minutes later, Paul calls. OH - MY - GOD ! I said : I know !!! What I had just found was the research about a researcher who was in Columbia now at Stanford, named Carol Dwack (?) Carol Dwack has been studying effective praise and rewards and motivation on kids. And the study that I had emailed him and the one that ended up going everywhere in New York Magazine was a study with 5th graders. They were randomly assigned. Half of the kids... they were all gonna take this sort of IQ puzzle thing, right ? Half of the kids, at the end of the 1st test were going to be told : Wow, you did really well in this ! You must be really smart ! And the other half of the kids were told Wow, you worked really well on this. You must have worked really hard ! One sentence of difference. "You must be really smart !" "You must have worked hard !" Then they had another round of puzzle. Kids pick "which puzzle do you want ?" This one is easy. Easier than the one you just did. It will be fine. This one's hard... You'll really have a hard time doing it. But you'll learn a lot. The majority of the kids praised for intelligence picked the easy test. The majority... the 90% of the kids praised for effort picked the one they'd learn from. Then everybody was given a test for 7th graders. They planned on everybody bombing (?), right ? The kids praised for intelligence assigned to that randomly at the start for sweating and [?] and litterally going like this as they were failing. You could see the anguish. The kids who had been praised for effort were saying : " Wow ! This test's my favorite one !" They were still bombing [?] but they were enjoying the experience ! (laughs from the audience) Then they gave them on more test. This was the same thing at the same level of difficulty as that first test. Right ? And we would expect *all* of the kids to improve It's the practice effect. I mean they've already done this 4 times ! The kids praised for intelligence their scores dropped. 20% from the very first time. The kids praised for efforts their scores increased 30%. One sentence of praise difference, randomly assigned. I read this. And, I have to tell you : I felt sick to my stomach. I wasn't excited. I was terrified ! and I was angry ! The dirty little secret I tell you not what I wanted to tell my New York editors the study was first published in 1998 ! How can I hadn't heard of it ? If I had heard about it I might have done some things differently Ive been tutoring inner city children in Los Angeles for ten years I started a program in tutoring It's nothing compared to the gentleman on my left but Ive been working with an 800 kids by myself ! and when you walked in that door I was gonna make up for every bad thing that happened outside of tutoring by praise. And reward. They walk in without tripping [?] : "Honey ! Youre a genius !" (laughs from the audience) And they loved it ! Its not the praise was ineffectual. It's VERY powerful. 85% of american parents think it is important to praise a child for intelligence. That's interesting. Why is that ? I think it's an outgrowth of the self-esteem movement. In fact, there was a Canadian researcher a psychologist named Nathan Brandon (?) who wrote a book where he argued that self-esteem was the most important part of a person's being. If that was good, everything else would come. Now, a lot of people misunderstood this work. But the higher low point and really the kicking-off of the self-esteem movement was in 1984. The State of California issued a Task Force to study self-esteem. And how could we boost it. And the idea was : if we boost kids self-esteem their achievements would come along to the right. We'll give them the confidence that they know they can do it. Because what it is right now is a lack of confidence. Self-esteem is one of the most researched topics in all of psychology. Over 15.000 studies since 1970. [?] was asked by the Association for Psychological Science to do a man analysis. Put all of the stuff together and tell us how great self-esteem movements are. He said : " Yes !" Because this was his life's work. And he realized of the 15.000 studies 200 was actually what he considered good science. What was wrong with the other ones ? Well... they asked people with high self-esteem " How are you doing ?" People with high self-esteem said : "Oh ! I'm fabulous, thank you ! I'm kind of attractive. I'm wonderful to be around. Smart. Intelligent." The 200 studies that worked were the ones where they asked those people's room mates. And the office workers and the bosses... " Oh my God ! He won't negotiate. He won't listen. And he's really not that attractive." (laughs from the audience) It turns out that self-esteem does not encourage achievement. Because it's the same thing that Carol Dwack [?] learnt. When you tell someone "you're innately great" there's no need to improve ! There's no... You're good ! And rather than actually try to improve yourself what you actually end up doing is to be concerned by image maintenance. Continuing to get that praise that "I'm smart. I'm special." "I'm awesome." But the problem is you know, there is a lot of media 'round there about the "helicopter parent". I don't buy it. I really don't. I think most parents are doing whatever they can for kids be that whatever money or time or resources they've got. And God bless everyone who is a parent. For doing that. I am afraid, though, at the bubble-wrapped kid the kids who are trimmed like China dolls they're wrapped and rewards and and praise... and "Oh ! No, no, no, you have a problem ? That's okay, we have professional tutors to arrange that for you." Or we'll have this or we'll have that. Parents and care givers and I have done this too all of this, I'm guilty ! You know, when your kid is struggling "Oh, I missed the goal at the field goal in soccer." What am I doing ? "Oh, no, honey ! That'll be great ! You'll do it next time." I do not have a crystal ball. I don't think you, guys, do either. What happens when that kid missed the kick the next time ? It's not about building self-esteem. What we wanna do is have kids trust us. That we are people to actually listen to. And people to care about. So now, when you think about Carol Dwack's [?] research as exciting and as empowering as it was I was sort of angry I did not already know it ! That piece ended up in The Catalyst for a book that Paul and I just wrote called "NurtureSchock: New Thinking About Children" which is why I was very excited to be part of this panel. And I want to spend the rest of my time talking a couple of those other things that I was *angry* that it took me writing a book about the science of kids before I learned it. And I hope that you guys will think about these ideas and get the word out. And we're going to start it by... a PopTech [?] ! Guys ready ? It's not hard ! Some of you may bomb but it's okay. You, you're ready. You're ready ? Everybody, out loud, as quickly as possible I want you to listen to my instructions and just yell it out okay ? don't listen to people around you. Complete the following sentence logically : " The boy walked his... ?" (the audience responds) [horse ?] Some persons are silent. Not everybody got that ? [I didn't...] OK. Complete the following sentence illogically: " The boy flew his ... ?" (audience responds) I heard some kites and planes in there ! Okay, raise your hand if you said kite or plane ! You thought "It's not kite or plane but I don't know the answer !" Yes, that's a test from David Dingus [?] It is about sleep deprivation. (lots of laughs from the audience) Yes it is ! What happens is the brain perserverates you get stuck on the wrong idea but you don't know what the right one is. That's the first symptom of sleep deprivation. Now all of you are going to start yawning soon. It's not cause I'm boring. It's because I am reminding you that you *need sleep* ! Now even if you got the answer correct on that second one some of you may be dragging a little bit by now during the conference 60% of American high-school students report EXTREME day-time sleepiness. Everyday. One third of the kids admit [?] a sleep in class AT LEAST once a week. Not [?] they admit to. 25% admit that their grades have suffered. Why is this ? Well, there's a lot of reasons. Technology... You know, spending the night on the texting. We don't want to be the hard ass and tell the kid "Go to bed !" That's some highschool student. They should know. 95% of high-school students set their own bed time. They're grown up and that... Another reason is money. Schools save money on buses by having one of a fleet take the highschool kids at 7 in the morning and take the younger kids later. Easy enough, right ? 5% of American high-school seniors get 8 hours of sleep. Biologically, at adolescence, their brain is still developping. They should be getting 9 and a quarter hours of sleep. 5% get 8. If it drops below 8, that doubles the level of clinical-level depression. I'm not talking little sleep. The high-school students are walking around so depressed (hey I got some yawning going on !) they could get meds and therapy when what they need is go to bed. One of the other things that we really want to think about we didn't know the cost. Hey we are all tired. We'll live over it ! We'll take a nap tomorrow, on the plane home ! It turns out [Amisony?] had 6th graders move their sleep just a half an hour three nights in a row. Nothing, right ? They gave my IQ test on Friday, the 3rd day they scored like 4th graders. An half an hour of sleep less three nights in a row the 6th graders lost 2 full years of cognitive development. A student gets 15 minutes of sleep more a night than B student who gets 15 minutes more than C and it gets all the way down the list. By the time they're getting in an A and an F, you're getting other socio-economics thing right ? The kid who's an F student might not be getting sleep but maybe it's because he's got a night-time job ? or no supervision ? or other things are going on. But every 15 minutes count ! Now, [Walker?] did this research where he had college students have sleep deprivation. We can't do that to kids. We can move their bedtime. We can't have them sleep-deprived it's considered child-abuse. But we can do it with college students because we give them, you know, a pizza and [?]. (laughs from the audience) So the college students were given a list of words and then they were told to come back after 36 hours "don't go to bed". And then Matt gave them the list and said "What do you think ? Have you seen these words before ?" Then students remembered 85% of the words like CANCER and DEATH They only remembered 31% of the words like BASKET or SUNSHINE. It turns out that sleep deprivation hits the hippocampus which is in charge of memory and more rational thoughts harder than the amygdala which is got more of the emotions and the fight-or-flight. People who are sleep-deprived they really see the world in a more negative difficult way. There's some researchers who argue that teen rebellion... well, rebellion is a real thing... teen moodiness is actually all sleep-deprivation. Now, is there a way to fix this ? Yeah ! Get kids more sleep ! A [?] in Minnesota moved its start time an hour. . What happened ? The top 10% of their graduating classes SAT scores went up 200 point ! That was back in the day when there was a 1600 point scale. But even more than that, they said the kids' quality of life improved. Everybody thought : "Oh people would drop out of extra-curricula activities because they would be too late. They'd reduce sports. " It turned out more kids signed up for sports. More kids signed up for extra-curricula activities because they were... awake ! And those top kids who already had ceilings, you know, they already had an A they already had their SAT perfect score they already have one hundred extra-curricula activities they were less depressed. They were happy about it. They actually fell in control of their lifes. I... errr. There's another school in Kentucky that moved its start times. Car accidents relating to teen-agers dropped in that one district 25% compared to the rest of the state. It turns out that there are hundred thousands fall-asleep car crashes in the United States ! Each year. Over half of them are young people. We need to think about sleep as a health issue. Not just as black boxes of time. And Im a [?] girl when you have 17 of the world-sleep experts tell you you are going to loose it on the other end. They've got to stop saying that... But, it's one of those things that can change kids' life ! But do we have the political force to actually make it happen ? Now you go : "Well, we should do this then ! There's all this good science about it, right ?" A friend of mine teaches at a [?] school in San Diego and it's a busing school, theater group, Her school's bell starts time at 7:05 There are kids on the bus an hour and a half. So there are kids on her school buses, on the bus, at 5 ! They've read some of my research. And they knew that the book is coming out and they had a big school debate : they were gonna move it 15 minutes just like we said Every 15 minutes counts ! Didn't go through. 15 minutes is the difference between an A and a B. A wake-up call for all of us. is that sometimes, improving kids life and improving kids education is much easier than changing everything about the kids life My [?] we don't. But if we gave them a little more sleep the world might open for them. Thank you very much. (applauses)

Video Details

Duration: 18 minutes and 16 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Poptech
Views: 106
Posted by: drsigmund on Jun 23, 2011

Ashley Merryman has co-authored numerous articles about parenthood. Over the past two years, she and journalist Po Bronson have collaborated on an award-winning series of articles in New York Magazine. Their most recent work, a book titled NurtureShock, explores cutting edge research that challenges many familiar myths about how to best parent kids.

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