This is one of those books that I will keep and refer to for a long, long time. Nurture Shock, by Po Bronson & Ashley Merriman, was given to me by our mentor as a must-read. And it did not disappoint.
Nurture Shock takes much of the conventional wisdom about our children & youth and flips it upside down. I was hooked from Chapter 1, The Inverse Power of Praise, which focuses on the damage we cause by telling students they are "intelligent" or "special" in the wrong context, and why praising effort instead instills an invaluable life-long lesson.
In each of the 10 chapters, Bronson & Merryman tackle a different misconception about our youth that is all too common in society. They first relay several stories to confirm the misconception exists, and then provide tangible research, experiments, and real-life examples disproving what is so commonly believed to be true. I was constantly nodding my head and smiling while reading this book, acknowledging that either I myself was surprised or that their proven theory makes all too much sense.
Some of my other favorite concepts from Nurture Shock include:
- Why teens arguing with their parents is a sign of respect and actually constructive to that relationship
- Why your student losing just one hour of sleep can result in performance two grade levels below their actual grade level
- Why most classic strategies to promote truthfulness actually just encourage kids to be better liars
- How persistence is not just a conscious act of will, but an unconscious response governed by the brain
- Why behavior and intelligence at age 5 may be an accurate predictor of academic achievement later in life, but not in the way you might think
- The Sibling Effect and why siblings really fight
Whether you are a parent or guardian, grandparent, educator, work with youth in any capacity, or want to have kids some day, buy and read this book. I know I will be drawing on this consistently when I raise my family someday.
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