Maria Popova and I Believe in the Value of Positive News

When I was a teacher, I learned of a theory- and I'm sorry I don't remember the source- that doing what we are good at makes us better at the things we are not good at. For example, children who read below grade level, but who like music, learn to read better if you put them in music classes for several hours of the day. When they get around to reading class, they're in a happier frame of mind and learn better. (This might seem obvious, but we always did the opposite in education- put kids who don't read well in extra reading classes, and make them skip music!)

Then there was this other study that found that children who were only praised in a classroom learned better than those who were both praised and criticized. The study found that, at least with children, criticism didn't do any good at all.

And so I tried, somewhat successfully, though not all the time- to rephrase my criticisms into praise for the things the students had done correctly. It seemed kind of insane, sometimes. I mean, if a kid can't spell "because," shouldn't I point that out? Yes, I couldn't help myself. I crossed out "cuz" and wrote "because" on those papers, every time. But verbally, at least, I did make sure and praise constantly. And I think it has come to shape my world view. Not that I never criticize anyone- ask my husband and daughter. I'm a terrible person. But I still have this idea that what you focus on becomes your life. It becomes your reality.

So, if what you focus on or pay attention to becomes "reality," ["reality" should always be in quotes] we should try and focus on positive things, right? Imagine my delight when I got my weekly update for Brain Pickings' Maria Popova this week, and realized she agrees with me, completely. Popova, (autocorrect keeps trying to make her a popover!) who normally reviews other people's writings, has come up with some deep original thought. It's "original" in the sense that she wrote it first, but darned if I haven't thought it all myself, already! Which just goes to show why I love Maria Popova, she who articulates that which I feel and think myself.

Read Popova's remarkable essay about the meaning of life and the role of the media here. 

from Brain Pickings

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the link. This sounds right up my alley. Off to check her out...