Raising Brilliance


This is a review of an article from, A Plan For Raising Brilliant Kids, According To Science, by Anya Kamenetz, July, 4, 2017

The interview is based upon the watershed book, Becoming Brilliant; What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children,” by Roberta Michinik Golinkoff, PhD and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, 2016 (see reference below).

As guardians of youth in government care, parents and/or educators it is our responsibility to call the most from our children. In my work with Group Home staff and youth, I am often concerned by how much some of our youth struggle with school. Though the majority of the young people I see say education is one of their top-3 priorities, they often fall far behind others due to emotional trauma.

Every child has the capacity for “brilliance,” as defined in this article and I believe that each of our outreaches to young people should focus on calling out that brilliance in our work. I hope for a day—and will work towards it—when we can be no less than centres where we help traumatized young people excel at resilience and brilliance.

I really like how the authors use the term “brilliance” instead of “genius,” there are too many connotations to the term, genius, and enough research to prove that IQ is not necessarily related to success in life. Sadly, I think the title phrase about raising “successful children” is a compromise with the Publisher's marketing staff searching for a name that will reach today’s general public. Success does not imply either well-being or compassion. Indeed, at the end of the Baby Boomer generation, we might be able to see how an emphasis on success alone has become inversely related to both. Fortunately, the authors also spend a good deal of time sharing how we need to re-define the understanding of contemporary success.

The gist of this article is that when children ask a question, we should not just give them the answer, but instead give them the means to answer it. Dr. Hirsh-Pasek uses an example from the article about a child asking, “Why are traffic lights red, yellow and green?”

She responds with, “When a child asks you a question like this, you have a few options. You can shut her down with a ‘Just because.’ You can explain: ‘Red is for stop and green is for go.’ Or, you can turn the question back to her and help her figure out the answer with plenty of encouragement.”

One of my favorite quotes from the article is about Rip Van Winkle and schools today, here’s what Dr. Hirsh-Pasek had to say, “If Rip Van Winkle came back, there’s only one institution he would recognize: ‘Oh! That’s a school. Kids are still sitting in rows, still listening to the font of wisdom at the front of the classroom.’

“We’re training kids to do what computers do, which is spit back facts. And computers are always going to be better than human beings at that. But what they’re not going to be better at is being social, navigating relationships, being citizens in a community. So we need to change the whole definition of what success in school, and out of school, means.”

I believe these statements are doubly-true for the Group Homes in which we are raising young foster teens—especially those homes which rely heavily on Compliance rather than Engagement and where we haven't given staff the training to respond in a manner that is better for adolescent development. 

The Interviewer quotes the authors describing what a report card for brilliant children would look like, “You present something you call the 21st-century report card. And it contains six C’s, which I’ve seen versions of elsewhere: collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence.”

Golinkoff also discusses the importance of youth being confident enough to take risks and fail, “There isn't an entrepreneur or a scientific pioneer who hasn't had failures. And if we don't rear children who are comfortable taking risks, we won't have successes.”

This is both an article and book I highly recommend. Even more, I encourage you to find ways to implement these suggestions rapidly into your parenting, programming at schools, detention centres or Group Homes. 

We should all commit to Raising Brilliance!


A Plan For Raising Brilliant Kids, According To Science, by Anya Kamenetz, July, 4, 2017, NPR

Becoming Brilliant; What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, Roberta Michinik Golinkoff, PhD and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, APA Lifetools, Copyright, (C) American Psychological Association, 2016



    Have Something to Share?

    Submit a News Post

    • Many years ago when developing our outreach to Youth in Detention in the Archdiocese of Detroit, MI, we had solicited Jerry Goebel to help train our volunteers. Jerry had developed a program called LifeCoach. It was a...

      Ida Johns, Detention System Outreach
      Read More
    • A Compelling Life... is filled with gentle invitations to reflect on life in all its' richness, beauty, joy, and sorrow. As a Catholic parent, I have worked with Jerry and his Web resources personally and...

      Dr. Dobie Moser, Catholic Family Ministries
      Read More
    • I have had the privilege of both watching Jerry work with youth and being taught by Jerry to use his methods with others. There are so many things I appreciate about it. The first thing I noticed is...

      Adelle T., Social Worker
      Read More