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Praise where it is due

'Beware American psychologists bearing educational cure-alls" is probably a good maxim to live by.

But the work of Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, in California, bears serious consideration. Ms Dweck believes the US school system has become over-reliant on praise as a mechanism to foster confidence and academic achievement.

In fact, she argues that praise for intelligence is counterproductive because it suggests to pupils it is a quality you either have or don't have.

Her research shows that when students were congratulated for their intelligence they became so invested in looking smart that they became afraid of challenge because they did not want to appear stupid.

In contrast, those pupils who were praised for effort actually sought out tougher ­challenges because they realised a setback was not a condemnation of their intellect, but a signal that more effort was required. It would be nice to praise the successful adoption of some of these strategies at Vale of Leven Academy in West Dunbartonshire but, given Ms Dweck's mantra, perhaps we should not.

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

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