Mindset

Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck spoke at the first session I attended on Friday. If you recall from our faculty book club last year, Mindset was one of the choices.

She reminded us that every era is known by the way it views and treats children. Carol talked about her own class experience in the 50s and how everyone was misusing Binet’s IQ studies. Some teachers sat children in the order of their IQ and also believed that IQ affected character. We now know that intelligence is not fixed and IQ is only one measure of intelligence.

There are two kinds of mindsets: Growth or Fixed.

There was a study that looked at what happened to teachers with either fixed or growth mindsets. They told both groups of teachers that the students got 65% on their first math assessment. Teachers with a fixed mindset concluded the children weren’t good at math and were less likely to encourage the student to improve and instead were more likely to console students instead. Those that had a growth mindset decided it was too soon to tell and that they would continue challenging these kids.

Students who buy into this fixed mindset become less interested in learning and less willing to exert effort (They think effort makes them feel stupid).  They are less resilient. Setbacks become deep and permanent and they perform worse as school becomes difficult. When kids are praised for intelligence rather than effort, it puts them into a fixed mindset. See Po Bronson’s book Nurture Shock.

When teachers were told that their students had a remarkable capacity to bloom that year, student achievement increased = Pygmalion effect.

New Neuroscience shows that our brains are plastic and capable of growth (more than we believed)

Adult brains grow.

Adult brains create new neurons (whether you keep them depends on how you work) She recommended reading Norman Doidge’s The Brain That Changes Itself

Carol Dweck then talked about the vital role of motivation to learn.

We are all born with irrepressible exuberance to learn. We never see and unmotivated baby.

A Growth Mindset

Creates a community of learners among students

Creates a community of learners among teachers (coaches, too)

Administrators become facilitators vs. judges (they don’t have to have all the answers – it’s more of a collaboration)

When the story of OUR era is told, how will we be described?

Motivation should be learning itself. If your student is coasting to get that A, you should say, I’m sorry that I wasted your time. How can I help you learn something else?

We must disabuse parents and teachers of meaningless praise. The reward should be for the effort. Perhaps those who have to use grades should include effort in the grade – not just make it a consolation prize. Give it 25% (or more) of the grade. Read this article by Po Bronson about the inverse power of praise.


Mindset research in terms of achievement gap, racial stereotypes, poverty

especially important to teach growth mindset skills to these students

closes the gap (e.g. girls in math)


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2 thoughts on “Mindset

  1. Pingback: Vancouver 2010 « Seconds

  2. Pingback: How to Praise Children (more Mindset stuff) « Seconds

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