Too many children – and adults for that matter – believe they don’t need to learn, or that they can’t learn.
Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University contends this is due to individuals developing a Fixed Mindset with regard to their capabilities, character traits or potential. She argues that not only learning is stunted, but many social issues can arise by having a Fixed Mindset.
She says, in order for individuals to flourish, they need a Growth Mindset – a disposition that embraces challenge, seeks out feedback and values effort as the pathway to mastery.
In my experience, I’ve found the work of Dweck to resonate with many parents, educators and business leaders. Perhaps they themselves believe they’re, “not a maths person” or they, “don’t have a creative bone in their body” and hold a Fixed Mindset with regard to their potential to address these shortcomings. The majority of adults I speak to can also relate it to their kids.
Since Dweck’s book Mindset – The New Psychology of Success has been published, many in educational circles have started exploring the concepts of Fixed and Growth Mindsets in the belief that a Growth Mindset could be the key to unlocking our students’ potential.
Of course, it’s not just those who struggle. Some who have succeeded at school or in another domain may also be stuck in a Fixed Mindset. These individuals have been told they are really smart, a natural in a certain subject or talented in a particular domain, yet when they come up against a challenge, as they will invariable do so if they are that good, they begin to doubt themselves. After all, if I’m so good, I shouldn’t have to struggle right?
I’ve argued that, unfortunately, some of what we do in schools may serve to reinforce the Fixed Mindset. Grading, streaming, Gifted & Talented classes, even goal setting – if not handled properly – can have negative effects not only on the kids who don’t do well in school, but also those who for all intents and purposes appear to be successful.
Don’t believe me? Think about your colleagues differing approaches to implementing new strategies in the classroom, the uptake of technology in teaching, their attitudes of professional development days etc. Think about their mindsets with regard to the classes they teach? The comments they make.
However, according to Dweck, those in a Growth Mindset understand regardless of their abilities and talents – whether they be superstars or struggling – they have the potential to improve, do things differently and see the benefit of sharing their experiences and time.
Even though you would love to do it, have you given up too soon because of your fixed mindset?
Dan Haesler – www.danhaesler.com