Sod genius – it’s kindness that matters most!

I can’t bring myself to watch the child genius programmes on channel 4. Even the trailer is enough to put me off.

I cannot bear the mass acceptance and propaganda that genius is so worthy we have to parade our kids across the telly as tools for our own self gratification.

Makes me cringe! (Read what Charlotte Runcie says in the Telegraph)

As does yet another annoying mathematical puzzle on Facebook asking ‘How smart are you?’

Interesting how ‘smart’ is measured by maths. Couldn’t it equally be measured by our ability to create an artwork?

Well that depends on how you define smart, or genius, doesn’t it. And the way in which we’ve been told to define it. We also have to decide on what matters most.

What matters to me over smart is kind. In fact, kind is smart anyway – one is no good without the other, because it doesn’t matter how smart you are, if you’re not kind with it you don’t have access to what makes our life ultimately happy; relationships with others. You have to be smart enough to work out that ‘kind’ is as useful as ‘smart’.

We never see a challenge on Facebook asking ‘How kind are you?’ But then, how could you measure that? And therein lies the problem.

Everybody wants testable evidence. And we’ve been conned to think that testable evidence must be the truth. It isn’t, as anyone who manipulates data will testify! Data can be construed to make out what you want it to make out. Politicians use this strategy all the time. The telly programme isn’t testing genius, it’s making viewing. And making the producers a lot of money with very little outlay, such a good drama would cost! Basically, they are using our kids for cheap telly.

I don’t mean to be unkind to the youngsters taking part in the programme. But I do want to point out that kindness is as valuable an attribute as genius, more valuable I would say. But how will our children learn that if the only thing we appear to admire is testable genius? When I see those kids squirming with the pressure they’re under to be genius I wonder if somewhere along the line they’ll learn to be kind. They might not if unkindness has been the methods used to put pressure on them.

Shouldn’t we be educating towards good, kind people and allowing genius to naturally follow on through?

And shouldn’t we be applauding many, many other attributes of human nature as well as smart?

We need to be applauding our children for the people they inherently are, not whether they can answer questions or not!

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12 thoughts on “Sod genius – it’s kindness that matters most!

  1. Just watched it! Has left me feeling depressed. Some of these parents clearly use emotional blackmail. They make their children feel guilty and ungrateful every time they don’t perform the way thats required. If its the kids who are wanting to participate then fine. But when they are doing it out of fear of rejection which clearly some are then then its plain wrong to me. And its going to end in tears. Eventually those kids will push back. The sad thing is they think they are being good parents!

    • Thank you for your comment Shannon – you identified for us that parents often feel so much pressure to make their kids perform it can become quite misguided! Great you visited! x

  2. I recently read “Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ” by Daniel Goleman – pretty much concludes that a high IQ doesn’t count for much in life! I watched the Channel 4 show last night – it is utterly cringe-worthy but I have to say in it’s defence that it’s told from the viewpoint that being a genius is not necessarily a good thing and that the adults have odd ideas about what constitutes a healthy childhood. Also – it’s worth watching just to see the unschooling family, they’re very sweet and are shown in a very positive light! Lovely post, Ross x

    • Thank you Lucy, yes – everyone’s mentioned the home schooled child. Lovely they were included! Let’s hope that the cringy programme will help parents understand a little more that genius isn’t everything although I think that idea will be wasted on many who featured! Lovely to have your comments! x

  3. Ross, as usual your words are entirely correct.

    One thing I would really like to do though is encourage, despite better judgement from the trailer, watching just last nights show to see the beacon of light in the form of the 8 year old unschooled girl. How wonderful to see the contrast in parenting, to see their kindness, trust, faith and bond with their child and in turn, a balanced and happy individual, simply full of the joys of life and learning – even the media couldn’t skew the glaring contrast!

    What a wonderful advert for home education and an incredibly inspiring family…and completely in line with everything that you say in your post.

    I know which child I thought had the best education….

  4. Have you read The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother? It’s written by a mother whose aim was to ensure that both her girls were geniuses. It’s interesting because towards the end, it appears that she begins to recognise that this is not an acceptable way to treat children; that encouraging their own interests and supporting them in their learning is the best way to develop so-called genius qualities and indeed kindness. Her relationship with one of her daughters broke down almost irreparably because of the pressure the child was put under and the fact that she was forced to excel to the exclusion of everything else. I haven’t seen the channel 4 programme this year – did it start yesterday? I did see it last year although I could hardly bare to watch – I stopped watching it in the end because I don’t want to be a viewer who justifies these programmes being made.

    • Thank you very much for your comment Katie. I’ve heard of the Tiger Mothers and find the whole concept extremely worrying! Interesting the outcome isn’t it? And also your comment about how developing other qualities helps develop genius! Great comment! x

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