Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mindset: How we can learn to fulfill our potential

Dweck, Carol S., Ph.D, (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York, Ballantine Books.


Dweck uses the idea of mindset to explain how people obtain success in their daily lives. She identifies the two mindsets as growth or fixed. A fixed mindset involves believing attributes like intelligence and talents are innate whereas a growth mindset sees these attributes as a result of effort and hard work. She cites many fascinating studies that show the differences in individuals who went into sports, jobs, classrooms, etc. with either of the mindsets and whether or not they succeeded depending on their mindset. Characters like Michael Jordan, Ghandi, parents, and classroom teachers are used as examples of how success can be obtained if your mindset is that of growth. The logic is simple, those with a fixed mindset will see their failures as judgments against their set identities while those with growth mindsets approach failure as opportunities to learn how to improve themselves. Talent and intelligence are attributes to value, but Dweck argues these are attainable to anyone who is willing to put in the effort and work required. Your starting point is irrelevant. What is more important is how much you value the process of gaining intelligence and talent. Dweck treats the like a muscle; it is meant to be exercised if you intend to make it stronger. She not only gives powerful reasons for changing mindset, but every chapter is filled with strategies to help parents, teachers, anyone really, begin to change their mindset and achieve greater success in all areas of their lives.

Relevant Quotes/Concepts

Page 11

If, like those with the growth mindset, you believe you can develop yourself, then you’re open to accurate information about your current abilities, even if it’s unflattering.

Page 22-23

When do people with the fixed mindset thrive? When things are safely within their grasp. If things get too challenging- when they’re not feeling smart or talented- they lose interest…

In contrast, students with the growth mindset continued to show the same high level of interest even when they found the work very challenging.

Pages 176-177

Parents think they can hand their children permanent confidence- like a gift- by praising their brains and talent…It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong. If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.

Page 211

How do you use praise? Remember that praising children’s intelligence or talent, tempting as it is, sends a fixed-mindset message. It makes their confidence and motivation more fragile. Instead, try to focus on the processes they used- their strategies, effort, or choices. Practice working their process praise into your interactions with your children.


1. As a teacher, it is difficult to give grades on just the process or effort. A finished, polished product seems important as well. Is effort always visible? If not, then how do I grade it as a teacher?

2. Growing a love for learning seems to be at the center of Dweck’s book. The culture set in the classroom is set by what the teacher chooses to praise. Think about the last comment of praise you made to the class or a specific student. What were you praising? Does this praise foster a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?

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