Uncharted Territory


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When my daughter came home from her third-grade sports day with a plastic gold medal, I asked her what she had won it for.

“We all got a medal,” she beamed.

ライターはこのような“gold medal for all”アプローチに批判的です。それはARE WE SPOILING OUR KIDS WITH TOO MUCH PRAISE?(褒めすぎて子供をダメにしていないか)というタイトルからも容易に想像できます。この文章は関連エピソードから初めて問題提起というよくある流れで書かれています。a society that values praise over engagement and end goals over process(取り組みよりも褒めることに、過程よりも最終目的に価値を置く社会)に疑問を感じているということでライターの主張はそれを逆にしたものかなと推測できますね。

Educators and psychologists have debated the subject of praising children just for showing up for decades. You often hear comments like, “We are in a new age of narcissism” or, “We are entering a new me generation.” Is there, in fact, a connection between entitlement and how much praise we give our children? If so, what can we, as parents, caregivers, and educators do about it?

Although the debate is far from over, well-accepted studies in this area come to the conclusion that, yes, in many ways our well-intentioned tendency to lavish our offspring with praise is fueling a generation of narcissists. I am still not happy with the “gold medal for all” approach to sports day, but I have to grapple with the fact that many of us live in a society that values praise over engagement and end goals over process.

日本では「教育勅語」が話題になっていますが、どのように子供を育てるかは時代によって考え方が変わるもの。昭和時代は「体罰」なんてありましたがこれはビクトリア朝の考えでもあったようで、Spare the rod and spoil the child.ということわざを使っています。1960年代のカウンターカルチャーでは子供も大人として扱い子供の自主性を尊重するようになったそうです。現代はその中庸に当たるとか。

In the 1960s and 70s, the cultural pendulum had swung a great distance from the Victorian idea that sparing the rod would spoil the child. We had, thankfully, moved from seeing children as little adults who could be sent down the mines, to viewing them more or less as equals. Child-led learning was gaining ground; parents told their kids to call them Carol and Bob, not Mom and Dad. The issue of praise has swung alongside the pendulum: Gone is the Dickensian approach of “building character” through coldness and disinterest, but parents and teachers are now beginning to question the “everything is great” mode. We have shifted toward a middle ground, one where we understand that feedback is good, but praise does not always bring about the outcome we hope it will.

Spare the rod and spoil the child.に関してはロングマンやオックスフォードもエントリーそのものがなかったです。ケンブリッジもold-fashioned sayingとラベル付けしています。そのあたりの時代の変化は英和辞典では反映しきれていないようです。トムソーヤの冒険でも学校の先生によるムチ打ちのシーンがありますね。13分30秒あたりから。

(棒状の)むち, 細枝; 〖the ~〗むち打ち, 体罰
▸ Spare the rod and spoil the child.

spare the rod and spoil the child
old-fashioned saying
​said to mean that if you do not punish a child when they do something wrong, they will not learn what is right


If praise becomes the focus for preschoolers, and then shifts into wanting those gold stars at elementary school, it can then segue into craving the top grades in high school. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but all we are doing is training our children to attain goals rather than to pursue learning for its own sake. In fact, a study of college students found that they rated “achieving the highest grade possible” as their main reason for learning. Things like “increasing one’s knowledge” or “undertaking work as a matter of personal challenge” rated much lower in their priorities.

ではどうすればいいのか?One simple way is to praise the effort over the outcome.と結果ではなく過程を大事にして、また問題点について冷静にフィードバックすることだと述べています。

So how do we foster in our children a desire to learn, rather than a desire to please us? One simple way is to praise the effort over the outcome. Not only does this encourage them to keep doing whatever it is, it takes the focus away from “good” and “bad,” placing it on the idea that working toward something can be its own reward. In other words, instead of thinking about praising our children, we should be concentrating on encouraging them. Some psychologists are keen to emphasize that we need to provide specific feedback rather than overall generalizations. We should also work toward creating an atmosphere where children feel safe making mistakes. Failure is part of the process of learning and is something we often overlook.


It is up to us to see that the children in our midst are presented with the mess of reality, with their failures as well as successes, with joy as much as disappointment. We owe them more than plastic gold medals for participation: We owe them the ability to confront complexity. It is our honesty—and not our distracted “wows”—that will provide our children with the skills needed to live in the real world, the one that lies beyond the bubble of constant praise.








The Internet is making us stupid. Tech-enabled multitasking has destroyed our attention span. Social media is a waste of time.

These are the admonishments that lead me to periodically question my symbiotic relationship with technology, and to detach from Facebook for up to 24 hours at a time. When I do, the only way I can reliably quell my urge to connect is by losing myself in a book. That’s how I came to spend my summer vacation the way I usually do: by reading novel after novel.


[N]ovels removed one from the truth through their tendency to “give false notions of things, to pervert the consequences of human actions, and to misrepresent the ways of divine providence.”


Each of these concerns echoes the complaints we hear about the Internet today. We can also hear the echoes of 18th and 19th century moralists in contemporary hand-wringing over how the Internet is turning us into click-baited, porn-devouring imbeciles. Early American moralists held that novels “were subversive of the highest moral principles or, in short, were the primer of the Devil.” James Beattie condemned novel reading in 1783 because the “habit of reading them breeds a dislike to history, and all the substantial parts of knowledge; withdraws the attention from nature, and truth; and fills the mind with extravagant thoughts and too often with criminal propensities.”


An analogous effort at rehabilitating the Internet is already underway. From evangelical Christians asking “What would Jesus tweet?” to the Buddhist embrace of “contemplative technologies,” established religious traditions are beginning to explore the ways in which spiritual practices can be translated or extended with digital tools. Blogging has worked its way from the margins to the center of contemporary journalism, followed by podcasting and now, virtual reality. Just as 19th century novelists consciously strived to elevate both their craft and their moral standing, the emergence of dedicated online authors and journalists has helped to elevate the caliber of online content.

But the rehabilitation of the Internet doesn’t rest entirely in the hands of online contributors—just as the rehabilitation of the novel did not occur solely due to the efforts of novelists. George Boulukos argues that the emergence of university English studies helped to elevate the status of the novel as a subject of study, and implicitly, of consumption: