Challenge is Part of the Process

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don’t.

All kidding aside, Carol S. Dweck, author of the best selling book, Mindsets believes that there are those people who tackle all kinds of challenges with rigor and enjoy the challenges. They take risks, and are engaged in the process of learning new things everyday. These are the people with growth mindsets. The others, who avoid difficult things, or who believe they just cannot do something well. She calls people who think this, those with fixed mindsets. What she also says is that growth mindsets can be taught.

Her research has been used in several of my favorite books I have read this past year: Drive (Daniel Pink), Nurtureshock (Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman), and Switch (the Heath Brothers).

Dweck has an article in this month’s Ed. Leadership titled: Even Geniuses Work Hard. It’s one of the few articles you can read online without a subscription. Just click the link above. She summarizes her work and discusses how to praise children: not in the product, but in the challenge and process of the work itself. Dweck says that her research “has shown that praising students for the process they have engaged in—the effort they applied, the strategies they used, the choices they made, the persistence they displayed, and so on—yields more long-term benefits than telling them they are “smart” when they succeed.

The article focuses on these areas to help build a growth mindset.

  • Emphasize Challenge, Not “Success”
  • Give a Sense of Progress
  • Grade for Growth

How we grow as individuals, how our students grow, and how our school grows as an organization will depend on relishing and identifying the challenges, taking risks, and working hard.


5 thoughts on “Challenge is Part of the Process

  1. Another great blog post, Anthony!

    I have been very proud of our staff and faculty as we have taken on our current challenges of growth and change. I feel fortunate to work with such a group of people who take on challenges with real zest and vigor.

    We are nearing the end of September. Do you see your Finish Line in sight?


    • Thanks, David. Yes, some sort of normalcy is in sight for me. There are still a lot of things to tweak. The finish line in June is still miles away, but I’m finding a pace that will get me there.

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  3. As a former student of yours, I find it very interesting that gifted kids need to be pushed to work as hard as other kids; most people would think that gifted kids have it easy, but actually I think that they have to do more work than everyone else. They need to work harder because teachers expect more of them. I try to live up to their expectations as well as my own.

    • Hey Will,
      Nice to see you on here. Hope all is well and you’re off to a great new school year. Glad to hear that you have high expectations for yourself, and not just your teachers’. If you have it easy, then your teachers aren’t doing it right. Learning should be messy, fun, and hard work for everyone. Hope you’re also getting messy and having fun! 🙂

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