SFP 164: Late Bloomers [with Rich Karlgaard of Forbes Magazine]

In today’s episode, I am chatting with Rich Karlgaard, Publisher of Forbes Magazine, about his new book Late Bloomers. Rich is a self-proclaimed late bloomer. He’s sharing more of his story along with some research that will give fellow parents of late bloomers some piece of mind.

Show Notes/Links

Hi, there it's episode 164. And today we're talking about late bloomer.

You are listening to the simple families podcast, the Q and A style show that brings you solutions for living well with family. Here's your host Denae Barahona. Hello.

Thank you so much for tuning in this is episode 164. And in today's episode, we're going to be talking to rich. Karlgaard the publisher of Forbes and rich recently wrote a book called late bloomers in our chat today. Rich and I are talking about the concept of late bloomers. So what it means for kids as they get older, before we get into today's episode, here's a quick word from our sponsor and a few things coming up on Simple Families. The sponsor for today's episode is Scentbird, I'll be totally honest and say that it's been years since I've worn perfume. And the main reason for this is that it's expensive. And I tended to buy bottles and leave them mostly full unused. I think I'd get tired of the sense. And then they'd just sit there and I read somewhere that perfume goes bad if you don't use it after a certain amount of time.

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So as always make sure you're on the email list to go to simplefamilies.com and leave your email address, and you can stay in touch there. You'll get all the updates. So back to today's episode in today's episode, we're talking about late bloomers, I'm chatting with rich Karlgaard. Now rich is the author of the book late bloomers, the power of patients in a world obsessed with early achievement, but he's also a lecturer, a pilot, and an author of four acclaimed previous books. He's a self-proclaimed late bloomer. He had a mediocre academic career at Stanford, which he actually got into by a fluke. And after he graduated, he worked as a dishwasher at nightwatchman and attempt before he finally found some inner motivation and drive, which ultimately led him to his current career trajectory, which is the publisher of Forbes magazine. I love this topic and I really enjoy talking with Rich. And I think you're going to enjoy this episode. If you have questions or comments, or you want links to the things that we talk about, you can go to simplefamilies.com/episode164 without further ado. Here's my chat with rich.

Denaye Barahona: Hi, Rich. Thanks so much for coming on the show.

Rich: Thank you for having me.

Denaye Barahona: It's great to chat with you. So I was really excited to see your book late bloomers come up and when your PR person emailed me, I said, yes, absolutely. I want to talk to rich about this. This is a topic that I am passionate about. I have two kids, they're three and five, and one is an early bloomer and one is a late bloomer. And I've always wanted to know more about this topic. And now I feel like I've got this whole book full of great research and resources. Um, so thank you for writing this. It was this a long time in the making.

Rich: Well, in the book, I recount my own story. How at age 25, despite having a college degree from a good college, that I was still incapable of holding a job more responsible than temp type is dishwasher and security guard. And I remember one night when I was a security guard in a trucking yard and I was making my rounds, it was the graveyard shift and I heard a dog barking. So I swung my flashlight around. They were sending on the other side of the fence was a Rottweiler. And it suddenly occurred to me that at age 25, my professional peer was a dog. And a couple of months after that Steve jobs took Apple public. He was 25 also. So the golf between where I was and where Steve jobs was, and he was a college dropout, by the way, that golf was huge, it was shameful.

Rich: It was embarrassing. So I always had the idea, would it ever be useful to share that story is embarrassing as it is? And what really triggered my need need, I would call it a deep need to write this book and maybe contribute to the discussion on how we raise children, was reading about these rising rates of anxiety, depression, and even suicide among teens and young adults. And so I embarked on a five-year research quest to, to figure this out, what was really going on here and out pop this late bloomers thesis that these kids who are feeling anxious and depressed and thinking about killing themselves as teens, it just didn't come upon them as teens. This was the, this was the end, um, of, uh, of a long number of years where these kids felt under extreme pressure to do very well on standardized tests and grades. And we know that many kids are simply not built to Excel in that kind of regime. Some are, and God bless them, but many perhaps most aren't

Denaye Barahona: Right. And I'll tell you when I, so my son is five now. And we started him in a Montessori school when he was 20 months. So he was just shy of two. And we were there at that school for two years. And his classroom had, I want to say there was about 12 kids and about four or five of them, or in some kind of special therapies, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy. And I thought to myself, like that seems like a pretty high percentage of kids that have the special needs to be in a classroom, such a small classroom. So I kind of brushed it off. And that was when we were living in Texas and we moved to New York outside of New York city. And I put my kids in a Montessori school here and there were 17 kids in the class. And I counted from talking to the parents. 12 out of 17 kids were in some sort of special therapies.

Rich: Denaye Barahona:You know what I read just today, somebody sent this to me, it's in, in, uh, Huffington post that the person who's called the father of ADHD, Keith Connors is his now has regrets about the wide misuse of this diagnosis. And I think that says a lot,

Denaye Barahona: Right? I mean, it's, it's, to me that said to me, if 70% of these kids are not measuring up at age three, four, and five, the system is broken,

Rich: Measuring up to what standards. I mean, it's good of you to notice that and to question that

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And it's, but, and I think what happens is when you're in a highly competitive area, everybody just wants to get ahead. Right?

Rich: Well, they do. In fact, these preschools in New York, there are several of them that charge more than $40,000 a year for preschool education. And they they're, they're a multi-building campus for crying out loud and they promise a full immersion and in language and not just English language, but foreign languages also. And they make it pretty darn plain, not explicitly, but everybody can read between the lines, the do this now for your three-year-old so that they can get into an Ivy league school 15 years later. And so that's how this competitive pressure has led to an obsession, a single-minded obsession about early achievement, and we're not all born to achieve early.

Denaye Barahona: Right? And in your book, you talk about a wunderkind. Can you explain that? What that means?

Rich: Well, it's a German it's wonder canned, and it's literally stands for wonder child, the prodigy, and there are natural prodigies out there. They go to the excelled all the way through school. They get into great colleges and universities. Then they in, they're still in their early to mid twenties. They embark on amazing careers in finance, in New York or high technology in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle. And they found companies like Facebook, or they kind of found companies like Google and they're there. And again, I say that's really wonderful, but now to imagine that every kid should follow the same path when their native gifts and their passions and their emerging sense of purpose might be differently oriented. That's really a tragedy because it's, it's almost like we're considering kids as robots.

Denaye Barahona: Right? And there's this idea in Parenthood that we can make our children into wonder kittens, or we can at least do our best to try. So have you seen that popping up a lot that parents want to invest all of their financial resources, all of their time and energy into making their children prodigies?

Rich: Yeah. So you especially see it in these high performance cities and metropolitan areas like New York, where you live, or the San Francisco area where I live, I was born and raised in North Dakota. When I go back to North Dakota, I don't see that level of pressure. And I say, good for them. These are sane people. These are people who, even the best students go to North Dakota state and they get engineering degrees. And then they go out and do accomplish things and they have fulfilled and satisfying lives. But if you grow up in one of these high performance cities, maybe, you know, 20 of them across the country, and they're perhaps more than that, then you see, as you've seen, as I've seen that this pressure cooker too, on the part of parents to turn their kids into wonder Cannes is almost, it's almost too hard to ignore. And here we have Albert Einstein, we didn't speak a word of didn't speak until he was four years old. And here we have baby Einstein, a company doing a billion dollars a year in revenue.

Denaye Barahona: Right. To try to get there. Everyone wants to get their kids a leg up. And I kind of wonder if there is such thing as a regular bloomer there's early bloomers, and then there's everybody else. It seems like, do you feel like there's a regular bloomer?

Rich: Well, let's step back and say, ask what a late bloomer is because I was, as I was doing these years of research, I was rather surprised to find out that psychology and therapists and people like that, that there was no official definition of what it meant to be a late bloomer. In fact, you know, so far as you see the phrase at all in the literature, it's often used to describe some dysfunction that somebody is not developing on whatever schedule somebody else thinks they should be developing. So I thought, aha, this is Virgin territory. I'm going to come up with a definition. And if somebody can come up with a better definition, do it. But the definition I use is a late bloomer is somebody who blooms, who begins to fulfill their God, given potential, not when expected, but later than expected. And they often do so in a way that surprises people even closest to them.

Rich: Now, another way to look at it is it's another angle on that definition is that we're in the best position to bloom. When we find that intersection of our native gifts, our emerging passions and our emerging sense of purpose. And if we can get there, we're in the best possible place to bloom that can happen early, it can happen in the middle. It can happen late. It can happen multiple times because we as human beings or our cognitive abilities change over time. Um, and in many delightful ways, in many very useful ways, our passions will certainly change over the course of a lifetime. And our sense of purpose will change over the course of a lifetime. We may be more, our purpose might be to, to, uh, be able to buy a house and support a family and those kinds of things. But as we get older, um, and we really, we really come to terms with our mortality. Lot of people's deeper purpose shifts to now, what can I do to have a legacy, could be a financial legacy, or it can be a legacy of ideas, or it can be a legacy of helping others, but those will all change over the course of a life, which is really wonderful to know, because that means that we can bloom multiple times.

Denaye Barahona: So I I'm interested that you used the word dysfunction when you were first describing some of the definitions that you were seeing in the research. And when we look at defining a late bloomer versus an early bloomer and calling, if, if we were to call and in some instances, I'm sure that we are calling late bloomers dysfunctional or, um, disabled in some way before realizing that they might, they might just in fact need more time, but is that mostly society constructed like as society, we have to decide that there's no clear cut schedule.

Rich: Yes. I think it is a social construct. People will, people will come into their full capacities at different ages. I describe my own, um, journey toward not becoming a fully responsible adult until I was in my late twenties. I described the journey of Ken Fisher. If you watch TV, you can't miss a Ken Fisher and it's Fisher investments, a hundred billion dollars under management, 50,000 customers worldwide. And Ken was somebody who flunked out of junior college. Now think about that. It can't be that easy to flunk out a junior college, but Ken did it and spent most of his twenties while he was trying to launch a financial advisory firm. He had no, you know, very few clients, he would lose them all. His office manager left called him imperious. And he admits that he was all of that. So it took, had to take construction jobs.

Rich: You played guitar in a bar, uh, and not a fancy bar, but one populated by, by motorcycle gangs and folks like that. And, but all the while, while he was doing that, he was reading, he was reading all kinds of books on investing. He was reading 30 different trade magazines a week, and his brain was beginning to develop this idea of how companies should be valued. He didn't really get the yield from all of that. Self-education driven by his own passion until his mid thirties when subtly Fisher investments began to take off. And it's been nothing but up since.

Denaye Barahona: Right. So tell us about your own story a little bit more. What was your childhood like? Were you always a late bloomer or did that not really start cropping up until later on?

Rich: I was always conscious of the fact that I was physically immature and slow. If you look at photos of me from grade school, I'll be among the shortest boys in the class today. I'm a little over six feet tall, but I was always one of the shortest people in the class when the other kids started experiencing puberty. I didn't, that happened late for me. I recall that in eighth grade I was five foot, two and 80 pounds. And I remember, um, and all of a sudden the kids who had started to physically mature their interests changed with it, of course, and mine hadn't. And so I lost most of my friends because I was the kid and they were the teens. Uh, I lost my sense of dignity in sports because I was so small for some I, you know, my dad was a high school athletic director, so very sports conscious in our household.

Rich: And I grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota. Steve is the, the athletic director of the public school system. And I was ashamed that I couldn't do well in football. Now, if you step back and look at it objectively and you see the kid that's five, two and 80 pounds is getting the snot beat out of them in football practice. Cause I never played in games. Um, you would say what's that kid doing in there and to judge a kid by that those standards that he's five foot, two and 80 pounds and kids that are 150 pounds are mowing them over. Yeah. But that's not the kid's fault. That's not the 80 pounders fault, but you're made to feel that way. So I took a distance running and I, and I got pretty good at that. And, and um, you know, it was a good household. I mean, my parents, uh, they had their blind spots as all parents do, but, but it was a loving household.

Denaye Barahona: Now you mentioned the physical maturity piece and I'm particularly interested in that because I think that that's something that we can really look at and objectively examine, right? If we see a kid that is smaller and looks younger, we can say that this kid might be a late bloomer. But the reality is that some of our brains bloom a little bit later, the executive functioning skills, the development of the brain bloom later, and those things are harder to measure. And it's harder to really gauge our expectations on our kids. If in fact their brains are developing a little bit later. Yeah. The

Rich: Both in the field of psychology and in the field of neuroscience and they don't always agree with each other. There's something of a turf war going on between those two disciplines and that that's been going on for decades and decades because it's the idea of nurture versus nature. And the psychologists rally around nurture and the neuroscientists rally around nature. But interestingly, both parties have come to this consensus that we're not really fully adult, most of us until our mid twenties and beyond. And the neuroscientists will talk about the full maturity of the prefrontal cortex and the psychologists will maybe tip their hat to that neuroscientific idea. But they'll talk about other terms, but, but for me, I was not a responsible adult until I was 26 or 27. And with Ken Fisher, not till he was 30 years old, so can develop at different times for different people.

Rich: So now you think about this you're at age 16 or 17 kids, college bound kids sit down and they take some standardized tests like the SAT or the ACt, which is more common in the Midwest. And at age 16, when they're only two thirds, less than two thirds of their way to becoming fully functioning adults, they're typecast, they're type paths or abilities. And again, if you're, if you're assertive, algorithmically gifted, if you're a really good test taker, you're, you're a prodigy and your ability to sit still and focus you'll do well on that. But if you're not that person you're not going to do well and you will be judged for not doing well. And so we're leaving, just, just imagine the following that, that in every school, there's probably some brilliant carpenter or brilliant artist or brilliant musician. And, but if they're being judged on how well they take standardized tests and whether they get straight A's in advanced placement courses, then their strengths aren't revealed only their weaknesses are revealed. And that has dire consequences for people. Because if you go through life thinking, you're, you're less than your early life and, and, and your true gifts are never revealed to you then, um, what a loss of, uh, human creativity and talent, and that's what we're doing today. We're, we're too narrow in how we define success and how we define where kids should be at any moment in time.

Denaye Barahona: Right. I remember back to when I took, I took the actsh, I was in the Midwest and I didn't do nearly as well as I wanted to do. And prior to that, I thought that I was pretty smart. I thought I was doing okay. And I'll tell you, I'm even sure to this day, if I have recovered from that, I think that that blow that, seeing that number that I felt wasn't good enough. Um, and it just, it, it sticks with you and you talk about in this book, um, about how the creator of the SAT's calls the sat itself, a glorious fallacy. And I'm interested to hear more about your thoughts on standardized testing and how you feel like it's changed the educational system and the impact on mental health.

Rich: Well, the SAT had its roots in, in IQ tests, and now the IQ test was developed by Alfred Benet in theater or Simon in France in 1905, as a response to France, France is the first country in the world to have free K through 12 education available for all. But it was quickly discovered that 20% of the kids or something like that were falling behind early. So Benet was tasked with coming up with a diagnostic tool to discover why and Benet always thought that this diagnostic tool was only a snapshot in time. It was an American name, Lewis Terman at Stanford university. Stanford is fairly new university. Then we brought it over to the United States and have this grand vision for what intelligence testing could be. It could predict one's the outcome of one's life. And he thought that in, in good terms, rather than bad terms, because he thought, well, how, how wonderful that would be for society.

Rich: If, if we put the people in different slots, again, this very machine, like you have human nature. Now the bad speed of the early intelligence testers, including Carl Brigham, who adapted the IQ test, the Stanford Benet test into the sat in 1926, the bad seed was that they were all part of the eugenics movement, which was the belief that people of certain races were inherently superior to others. And gee, what a surprise that they all thought that people of Northern European heritage were, were cognitively superior to everybody else. So it had that bias built in. And when Carl Brigham developed the test in 1926, he still believed fervently and eugenics, but then he started having second thoughts and he gave a speech a few years later and he used the phrase. We have sinned gravely. We who believe that, you know, in these tests that these tests can forecast everything and he called it a glorious fallacy and he died a very unhappy man in 1934.

Rich: Well, then what happened was the great depression Cain Harvard appointed his first president who was not from the East coast aristocracy guy named James content. And content was, had spent a bunch of time at Harvard at all before he saw these young man, cause it was all men, then we're not even coming to class. Many of them, they were, they were hanging out in Boston, going to debutante balls. They were from old wealth that, that wasn't as affected by the stock market. Crash is some of the new money that was made in the boom years of the twenties were. And, um, and he thought the sat would be a weapon against this lazy aristocracy and it would promote meritocracy. So that, that came from a better place. So just about when the sat was to die a death, because it was attached to the genics movement, it was given new life by, by someone who's not attached to it.

Rich: And it had great effects, uh, Jewish people, uh, other racial and ethnic minorities that were kind of barred from getting into these Ivy league schools or it was very difficult for them. Um, suddenly started being led in. I mean, then that took until the 1960s. Well, now we've carried this basically good idea that Kahn had had, and we've, we've so overshot and what it means today. I think a lot of that is because the economy, if you look at the most lucrative parts of the economy, they tend to be high finance, it AK wall street and hedge funds and Silicon Valley kinds of technologies. And you look at the most valuable companies in the United States. And in fact, the top five most valuable companies in the world, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, what they all have in common is at least one of the founders scored 800 on their math SAT.

Rich: And that's had, this is my supposition. It's had a trickle down effect into the, into affluent communities, college educated communities, and it's left this idea, okay, that's the key is my kid is going to survive in the future in a technology driven world. Then I need to get them on the right track and give them a head, start, do anything that I can to, uh, to pave the way for them. So that really began to take off maybe 20 or 30 years ago. And today it's very extreme here in Silicon Valley where I live, not rich people, but just sort of educated middle-class people talk casually to spending $50,000 over the course of a four-year high school career to give their kids, SAT, prep, courses, tutoring, and all of that kind of stuff. And of course, what are the really rich doing while they're bribing, they're bribing admissions people and sports coaches to get their kids in this state.

Rich: And that just keeps giving the story, somebody out of China, um, at offered Stanford six and a half million dollars kid in unbelievable. So that's why I say we've overshot. And then you've got, then you've got all of this anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation rippling through in the 2014, 2015 school year. And in one suburb in the San Francisco Bay area, the suburb where Stanford is located Palo Alto, there were six high school suicides and more than 40 hospitalizations or treatment for suicide ideation. And when a writer from Atlantic monthly looked at these kids, she discovered that these were, these kids were, they were the B plus students who felt ashamed of being only B plus students. And one of the kids said on who eventually took his life, said, uh, on social media in the weeks up to his suicide, that he was exhausted from getting up at three 30 in the morning to study for his advanced placement courses.

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And I think thinking back about the experience that I had with standardized testing and the negative impact that it had on my confidence and my self-esteem, I think about what role that might play for my children in the future. And I actually, when I was at the school where 70% of the kids were in special services, the teacher recommended that I get my son assessed for special services, and I had an assessor come in and I wasn't sure what sort of testing she was going to do. And with my background in child development, I was really interested. So she started pulling out these boxes. My son was four at the time, started pulling out all these boxes. She sat him at the kitchen table and I looked at the boxes and they were intelligence tests. And I said to her, I was like, Oh, you know, well, from what I'm aware of intelligence tests, don't accurately predict future IQs until at least the age of six or seven. So if the statistics show that this isn't a good predictor of outcomes, then why is it that we do it? And she looked at me and she said, what are you afraid of?

Denaye Barahona: And I just thought that I was just like, what am I afraid of? I'm afraid of putting a number on my four year old. That's going to stick with him for who knows how long I'm afraid of putting that pressure on him for a lifetime starting so young. And I think it just, it starts so young that we start putting those numbers on our kids.

Rich: Yeah. And it's not validated by how it works out in one's life. The Google, as I said before, it was started by two math prod, prodigies, Sergei, Brin, and Larry Page for Stanford grad students survey brands scored seven 60 in the math portion of a practice sat test in eighth grade. So it gives you an idea of how smart those guys were at standardized tests. And in the early days of Google, when they were still involved in interviewing job applicants, they would ask people what they scored on their SATs. Well, years later, Google had an enlightened of HR named Laszlo Bock. And he decided to see whether how well somebody was doing at Google correlated to their insecurity scores and the ranking of their university. And they found that the correlation was pretty weak. And after about three years, it was, it was, there was a decent correlation from the very get-go, but after three years, it told them very little.

Rich: And after five years, it disappeared into the, to the statistical noise because five years into a career, if you're going to continue to rise, you need communication skills, compassion, curiosity, you need resilience. You need all of those things that aren't tested for. You can infer them from outside activities, but you can't pin a hard number to how curious somebody is. And yet, then a lot of these early stars that came in with the highfalutin sat scores and university degrees, they fell into the trap that Carol Dweck describes in her book mindset. They fill in, fell into the trap of their own fixed mindset and they didn't get better. They plateaued. In fact, I interviewed Carol Dweck who teaches freshmen psychology at Stanford, and she says something not good is happening. She said too many of the freshmen incoming freshmen I see at Stanford today are exhausted and brittle. They don't want a more they're perfect records. Well, if you're exhausted and brittle at 18, and then you no longer want to do anything, that's going to put a crack into your self image about what a star you are. Well, who are you good for? What are you good for? I mean, what kind of an adult life are you going to have if you're already that way at 18?

Denaye Barahona: Absolutely. And for anyone listening, I do want to say that I kicked that lady out of my house and did not let her do these tests on my son. And I feel like that's important to note because as parents, we have a choice in how we exert this pressure on our kids and what sort of process we put our kids through. To some extent, I feel like some of the standardized testing is happening in schools now. Um, but what do you think that we can do as parents to make choices for on behalf of our kids to avoid some of this?

Rich: Well, we have to start a conversation around this, and if you want to take it even further, we have to start a revolution. So that parents feel empowered. I gave a book reading a little bit of a book reading at a store a couple of weeks ago. And one of the, one of the parents was practically crying. And she said, thank you for giving us permission to have this conversation. I shouldn't be the one that has to give people permission. You know? So I'm, I'm really hoping to start a conversation around this, a brush fryer that leads to a bit of a revolution. And, and, and the revolution recognizes that all, not all kids are going to prosper under the, under what I call in the book, this conveyor belt, early achievement, we're treating our kids like robots, and we're measuring them on such a narrow range.

Rich: I should tell you the story of Todd Rose, who today leads a center of learning at Harvard university who flunked out of high school. Then he, uh, then he managed to finish his credits and he went to the low bar, public university in the state of Utah. Weeber state easier to get into then the university of Utah or Brigham young or those other colleges, any discovered while he was there. He did two things that were really valuable. He wouldn't take a class, you drop a class immediately. If he saw anybody from high school in that class, because his coping mechanism for being a poor student was a, an important test taker. Was it, he became a class clown and he, and he was beginning to realize that that would hurt him. And the other thing you realized you realize why he was bombing standardized tests.

Rich: He could not handle word logic problems. And but one subject that he was pretty good in was geometry. And his dad told him, well, why don't you take a word logic pro problem on a standardized test and figure out how to diagram it. You know, you come up with your own diagram, but figure out a way to diagram it. And he did that. And then he aced his GREs and he got into Harvard as a grad student high school dropout to Harvard as a grad student, simply because you did those two things. He broke out of that self-image that he was stupid and he was a clown. And then he figured out a work around to a glaring weakness in standardized status. It was such a glaring weakness. It was making them appear average at best,

Denaye Barahona: Right? And that's an excellent example of a fixed mindset, which was transformed into a growth mindset. And there was just an amazing result from it. Um, I'm a huge fan of Carol Dweck as well. And I think that, that the work that she's done as impacted so many lives, and I think it's going to continue to change the way that we're looking at the development and growth of our children. Um, I'm curious how you feel like all of this has impacted you as a parent with your own kids. Do you feel like, did you ever get caught up in the conveyor belt when your kids were younger?

Rich: It really alerted me to this problem. Both of our kids are adopted. We have a, we have a, um, a girl who's 26, young lady is 26 and a young man had just turned 23 today. And neither of them were good students in high school. And we decided right away, well, uh, you know, the, the statistics on adopted kids doing well in school is not that great for a number of reasons. And so we decided right then and there that we were not going to put that kind of pressure on them. Then I learned a heck of a lot when our daughter in her early teen years had such anger problems, particularly with my wife. I mean, physical anger that we decided to put her in a therapeutic boarding school North of Phoenix called spring Ridge Academy. And there I met the founder of spring Ridge genie, Courtney who founded spring Ridge at eight age 50 without any formal academic background in psychology and has become world-class because without that formal background, she reads everything.

Rich: And if it's useful, you know, she, uh, she takes it, incorporates it into the, into the curriculum. So I learned from, from genie, uh, and watching these troubled young teen girls coming into the school and then graduating with the ability to look people in the eye, shake their hands, um, comport themselves with dignity, know how to converse with adults that this is amazingly transformative. So you asked earlier, what do we need to do? Well, some kids need to be just pulled out in the line of fire and given what they need. And in her case, she was given our daughter was given what she needed it spring Ridge Academy. Well, not every parent can afford that. We were, we were lucky that we could afford to do that. So we need to, that's why we need to have this national conversation around this subject. I think Finland does a great job and not starting kids to school until they're seven, not even exposing them to reading, writing, and arithmetic until they're seven.

Rich: So we have the fallacy in the United States that somehow we have to start the much earlier and Finland has really good outcomes. It just popped up on the, on some survey last month, the fins are the happiest people in the world. If you could be happy in that, that far North of those long winters, you know, they must be doing something right. The outcomes of their high school graduates are really good. I think we need to restore a skilled trades track or what they called shop class in my day, um, in public high school was only one out of 20 public high schools offers. So you think of all these kids and we're talking mainly boys here, I think who, who developed this idea that they're losers in, in when it comes to standardized tests and grades, but have a real passion and skill and love for welding carpentry, electricians work. And that's dignified work by the way, it's pretty well paying work now,

Denaye Barahona: Right? And it's hard to see the less tangible strengths of a child. It's really easy to see when your child has a perfect score on the SATs or the it's easy to quantify that. But I think that the other types of intelligence that are just barely starting to be recognized now are less easy to quantify, right?

Rich: Yes. And I was struck by this 2017 cover story in fortune magazine, not my magazine Forbes, but, but fortune fortune does an annual best places to work list. And they interviewed some of the CEOs who are leading those companies. And many of them, high tech companies, one of them was Intuit and other one was Genentech. And so really high quality, high performing companies like that. And they asked the CEOs, what are you, what are the attributes you value in employees? You know, with the number one word was, it was curiosity. Now, think about that. Think about that. If we're putting kids on essentially a row learning conveyor belt, we're drumming the curiosity out of them. We're asking them to trade their natural childish curiosity for a determined focus, and only a minority of kids are going to do well, doing that. And even the ones that do well at that, many of them we've robbed their curiosity come to they've come to think that they always have to perform.

Rich: So it's something that is standard and was developed by others and has nothing to do with their own passions. And so those are the kinds of freshmen that Carol Dweck is seeing. It's it's Stanford. Their curiosity has been drummed out of them. Another, another example, the journalist, Megan McArdle writes for the Washington post, described a conversation with a girl that she was really interested, you know, subject, but she would never take the subject because she didn't know before if she would get an A and as she told Megan, McArdle, I can't afford not to get an A

Denaye Barahona: Yeah. And, you know, we don't have to foster curiosity as parents. We just have to not squash it. I think that curiosity is such a natural thing in childhood. And if we're pushing too hard in the other direction, in order to check all these boxes in life, that that's going to drive our kids in the other direction, it's going to squash that curiosity that is naturally existing in every child.

Rich: Yeah. We're, we're, we should be aware as parents that we're making a trade. When we do that, that if we're putting, if we're demanding, the kids show excellence in school at an early age, then what what's, what, what then is not happening. See, what's not happening is the development of their curiosity. What is happening? Is it determined, focused? The master wrote learning system?

Denaye Barahona: Absolutely. Well, rich, thank you so much for your time. This has been such an interesting conversation. One that I hope to continue after this with, with my audience, because I think it's going to resonate with so many people.

Rich: Well, thank you very much, Denaye. This was a pleasure to spend time with you doing, doing, having this conversation.

Denaye Barahona:Great. And I'm going to put the link to book in the show notes. And is there anywhere else that we can find your, is the book the best way to.

Rich: The book is one way and you can go to Rich Karlgaard rich, richkarlgaard.com. And you'll find the information you need.

Denaye Barahona: Great. Well, thank you so much.

Rich: Thanks again today.

Denaye Barahona: Thanks for tuning into this episode. I hope you've enjoyed my conversation with rich. If you want links to the things we've talked about, go to simplefamilies.com/episode164. If you enjoy this episode, feel free to screenshot it and share it on Instagram and tag me. And I'd love to chat with you more about it there, and as always, thanks for tuning in, have a good one.

Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.