Monday, June 29, 2015

Three lies and the truth

One of the Get-To-Know-You games that students play at Orientation at my college is called "Three Truths and a Lie".  Each person in the gathering states four facts about him or herself, and the other people in the group have to guess as to which of the four statements is false.

Of course, when you're raising children or dealing with shifty co-workers, figuring out which statements they tell you are the truth and which statements are . . . well, warped versions of reality . . . that's not quite as much fun, and there's usually no big "reveal" to help you check whether you guessed right.

Partly because I'm really interested in pop-psychology, and partly because I happen to be raising one or more reality-challenged children, I've had the fun of reading a series of books about why people get things wrong, why it's so hard for people to know that they're wrong, and how to increase the likelihood that people will tell you the truth (as they know it).

So I figure it's Book Report time; time to share a bit about what I've discovered and how those discoveries fit into rearing my kiddos. Get ready for Miser Mom's take on these three page-turners:  Spy the Lie, The Invisible Gorilla, and Being Wrong.  They're all about lies (or at least about mistakes and errors), and they all give me insight into the minds of myself and my kids.  Today I'll do a super-quick summary; over the course of the week, I'll blather on a bit more about the details.

Spy the Lie helped me -- in a major way -- work through how I talk with my children (particularly J-son) when I suspected he'd done something he shouldn't have: something he knew he shouldn't have done, and that he didn't want to tell me he had.  I found this book super helpful for these conversations;  I used the book to work past those instinctive cover-ups and toward a communication style where he'll confide in me, even when it's uncomfortable to do so.

Of course, when my kids distort reality, it's not always that they're deliberately lying.  Sometimes, it's just that they don't have a firm grasp on reality.  That's where the other two books come in.   Being Wrong helped me to finally get why my kids will happily tell me nonsense and then believe it themselves.  Also, why after they've been wrong over and over again, they never seem to remember that they'd made a mistake.  How the heck could that be?

And The Invisible Gorilla was just what I needed to hold up a mirror to myself, to enjoy the many ways in which I, myself, get reality all wrong. It's a book about illusions,  those versions of wrongness that somehow delight us rather than embarrass us -- even though the illusions the book describes can be embarrassing, and serious, and possibly even fatal.

Along the way, I'll make cheery noises about Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. This book isn't as useful for parents as it is for teachers (and possibly for learners), but it is a good book for those two groups, I think.    

And just a little side note; I'm not writing these posts about deceit and detection because of impending disaster.  In spite of our nervousness at the beginning of the summer, things are going swimmingly here.  My husband is doing lots of bike riding, which is what he wanted to do.  The boys seem to find lots of good things to do with their time (including Miser-Mom-School and chores, but other fun things as well), and I'm expecting that at some time this week I'll actually finally transition over from paperwork to mathematics.  Life is good in this neck o' the woods.

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