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Paperback NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children Book

ISBN: 0446504130

ISBN13: 9780446504133

NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

In a world of modern, involved, caring parents, why are so many kids aggressive and cruel? Where is intelligence hidden in the brain, and why does that matter? Why do cross-racial friendships decrease in schools that are more integrated? If 98% of kids think lying is morally wrong, then why do 98% of kids lie? What's the single most important thing that helps infants learn language?NurtureShock is a groundbreaking collaboration between award-winning...

Customer Reviews

7 ratings


Page 17 is a must read! It talks about how the brain is a muscle and giving it a harder workout by learning hard things does make it smarter. Chapter 4 was very interesting. Chapter 8 is a must read! The tools curriculum for preschool and kindergarten is fascinating and something every school would benefit from implementing. I found this book fascinating. I am really glad I read this book!

What they said...

I won’t say much, because many of the reviews on this page have well covered many of my thoughts on this book. I read this over 10 years ago, and bought another copy - both of which I gave away because I so wanted people in my life to read and discuss it with me. I truly think it is an valuable resource that anyone that is around children should read.

It's ok.

While the authors bring up some thought-provoking points and perspectives, there is much to be critiqued. There were obvious biases, studies were not properly cited within the text - nor were they always peer-reviewed - and I found that many chapters either overexplained why a certain thing happens without giving enough practical advice or vice-versa. I would label it an ok supplemental book (when read critically), but finding a summary of it online and reading a few studies on your own would be more worthwhile.

Conventional Parenting Wisdom Gets an Overhaul

Nurture Shock is a parenting book with a strong scientific foundation that's designed to have a big impact on breaking some of society's misguided conventions regarding parenting and education; which looks to be an exceptionally good thing. It focuses on a number of issues relating to parenting and education in which good science shows us a different view from current cultural assumptions. Nurture Shock includes a fairly dense conglomeration of scientific studies on different topics which the authors have gotten heavily involved in. I loved how often they had actually sat down and observed studies conducted by experts in various micro-fields of child behavior while still sharing interesting stories about how their new-found knowledge had impacted their own families. Lots of cool stuff! It's a book designed for the masses, so it's a relatively quick read, but weighty (and even gutsy!) nonetheless. The thing that perhaps struck me most about the book was the utter honesty of the authors and scientists, who were sharing information even when it wasn't what they *wanted* it to be; they were incredibly up-front about their own biases. Among other things, this makes it sort of incomplete - in a natural and healthy and refreshing way. There's lots of stuff to stew on, some of which is quite paradoxical, and it's certainly a book I plan on re-reading and look forward to discussing with others. Also, if you've read the New York Times' article "How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise" (And if you haven't yet, you should!), you'll get a little taste, because this article (which debunks conventional thinking about "self-esteem" in children and gives a more whole and complete sense of what children need in the way of praise and encouragement) is written by one of the authors of Nurture Shock and the subject matter of the article is part of what's covered in this book. The following are the chapter titles with a little description of the content (each chapter stands on its own): 1. "The Inverse Power of Praise": Basically, the self-esteem movement was somewhat misguided in thinking that children would feel better about themselves and do better if we just told them they were smart. The truth is, children (and likely adults too!) work better with specific praise about things that they have some control over - like putting good effort into something. 2. "The Lost Hour": A collection of studies on why children, especially teenagers, need more sleep. The surprising thing is how big an impact this can have on their school performance. Fascinating! 3. "Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race": A very interesting discussion on the negatives of assuming that children will learn appropriate social behavior and attitudes simply from hanging around other children (and why we as parents need to get over our uncomfortableness in talking about certain issues). 4. "Why Kids Lie": An exposition on current research on lying and some helpful hints f

Opening our minds to new thinking about kids

Do you remember when you first discovered that the facts you learned in textbooks were not set in stone, but continued to evolve over time? "NurtureShock" delivers that type of useful thwap on the head in the realm of child development. Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman lead their readers on an eclectic tour of recent scientific findings about child development that have flown under the media radar up to this point. They discuss a range of topics, including: why putting children in a racially diverse school doesn't necessarily guarantee that they will make friends of different races (and the simple thing that parents can do to facilitate racial understanding); how childhood sleep-deprivation is a hidden epidemic that could be related to IQ points, ADHD,and obesity; the significant error in the process that most schools use in selecting children for gifted program qualification; and why Baby Einstein Videos actually inhibit language development, and what really teaches kids how to speak (to name 4 of 10 chapters). Every topic is interesting, but beyond the specific knowledge itself, the real value in "NurtureShock" is learning how our understanding of children changes over time. We need to keep an open mind that conventional wisdom--even that backed by current science--is not always right. Parents need to develop a critical lens to examine expert advice. As the Baby Einstein video experience tells us, sometimes what kids need most is simple, attentive parental interaction, rather than a fancy solution sold to us to fix something that was generally not a problem in the first place. (The videos may have served as a useful temporary diversion but they weren't really teaching anything. Yet some well-meaning parents made a point of having their children watch educational videos for many hours a week.) I find this critical lens and invitation to curiosity very interesting, and a vital skill that all parents need to refine right now. "NurtureShock" is a fantastic jump-start to an important conversation. I hope Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman will keep it going: finding other examples of intelligent research and excellent programs that really do work, and sharing that knowledge with their readers. They are starting up a new column in Newsweek so it looks like they may do just that.

How Children Work

I learned to cast a suspicious eye toward some who are regarded as childhood "experts" after getting to know the adult offspring of a few prominent figures in the field who were navigating adulthood with considerably more difficulty than the average person. So I particularly like the holes that Bronson and Merryman poke in some of the previously accepted academic theories and trends in child development. I also think that some of the "new" academic data presented in the book is something that many parents will simply (and hopefully) recognize as common sense. The chapters in the book are all very interesting, covering babies and teens and much of the in between. The chapter on testing for giftedness, which has become a hot button topic of late, is very thought-provoking. I agree with the authors that most gifted programs have run badly amok, but as one who had many years of experience at a private school for highly gifted children, I know that there are children who, in an average school environment, would be teased mercilessly for their ability to relate better to numbers and books than to their classmates. For highly gifted girls in particular, a school such as that can be a very safe place for them to be very smart. The chapters on false praise, sibling rivalry, teen rebellion and overly-involved parenting speak more to an affirmation of common sense wisdom than to academic breakthroughs, but the research and studies are fun to read nonetheless. The chapters on race, sleep and lying are quite thought-provoking. Overall, the book is well written (not in florid or garbled academia-speak), very well researched, and the authors succeed in offering quite a few new, and fun, things to learn about children.

It's not what you think. It's more than you know.

Parenting books are ubiquitous. How to sift through and determine which are worthy? I have a teenage daughter and have read quite a few. Even when I thought I was impressed, there was always something nagging at me about them. I determined that many of the books had an outside or hidden agenda, which was to socialize parents according to a specific sheep-herding mentality. Often, a social consciousness or a reaction to a negative social consciousness about raising children informed these "manuals." In other words, the science behind the thinking was weak--they were often politically charged or reactionary. The blurbs about this book intrigued me, but I was also skeptical--until I read the first chapter on the inverse power of praise. Parents and guardians--just get ye to a bookstore and read the first chapter. I think you will be galvanized by its immediacy and logic (as well as back-up data) and it will inspire you to continue. It all clicked when I read about our praise-junkie tendencies, and how it has a paradoxical effect. The authors never condescend to us; they maintain that all of us want to make the best and most informed decisions. For instance, most of us start telling our babies, from the cradle "You are so smart" as almost a mantra of parenting. The authors do not criticize positive praise--they are revealing the data for specific types of praise. Telling a kid he or she is smart rather than specifically praising them for their efforts will eventually backfire. The child will have a tendency to not put out a lot of effort when they are challenged because they are stymied by the feeling that they have to stay smart, or that they must be NOT smart if they can't solve a problem or puzzle. Telling a kid (s)he is smart is praising an innate feature that is out of the child's control. Praising them for each genuine effort (whether they solved a problem or not) will have a better outcome. I cannot convey to readers the way that these authors channel and support this information--the statistical data and the entire beautiful logic of it--you must read it for yourselves. The chapter on race relations also woke me out of a deep slumber of complacency. Too often, parents try to teach their kids equality just by placing them in diverse environments or showing them videos of multicultural friendships and cooperation. The book explicated a longitudinal study done by Dr. Bigler in Austin, Texas that revealed the lack of actual parent/child discussion on racial equality. That is the key ingredient to integration. Silence is not golden--(silence is black and white, and never the twain shall meet)--it is the wrong kind of colorblind. Just read this chapter and it will open your eyes. Each section is such a wake-up call to parenting that I found myself reflecting on the blind spots in my own methods--not in an immolating way, but rather in an "aha!" manner. It isn't guesswork or just someone's opinion. The longitudinal studies, o
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