In our classrooms you’ll find posters about having a growth mindset and you will see and hear teachers modeling a growth mindset and encouraging their students to have the same. All of this is based on the work of Carol S. Dweck who is a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and who wrote the book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” In the book she reports on her decades of research on achievement and success that has led her to believe that nothing has as big an effect on achievement as the mindset a person has.
As she writes, “For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”
In the book she identifies two mindsets people have- a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. She explains that a fixed mindset sees a person’s qualities and things such as IQ, talents, and even weaknesses as carved in stone and not likely to change much even with significant effort. This mindset she suggests drives people to think that they are a success or a failure based on what they do and often makes them believe that they have to continually prove themselves to be considered a success.
The growth mindset she explains is less pre-occupied with success or failure and instead focusses on growth and development. In this mindset a person believes they can change their qualities and develop new talents and even improve on their weaknesses. She asserts that in general people with the growth mindset find greater fulfillment in their work and life as they are better able to take risks, to face adversity, and to overcome challenges as they have a greater ability to bounce back from setbacks or failures.
As I shared last week, one of the greatest things we can give our children is a growth mindset but that is really only possible if we have one first!