Friday, July 27, 2007

Changing Your Mindset - Part One

I just finished reading Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. I am so excited about this book that I don't know where to begin. In Mindset, Dr. Dwecks explains her work on the "fixed" versus "growth" mindset. A person with a fixed mindset believes that their intelligence is fixed - there isn't anything he or she can do to change it. A person with a growth mindset believes that if they work hard and challenge themselves they will succeed and grow. Fortunately, those of us with fixed mindsets can change and learn to embrace a growth mindset.

At some level this seems obvious and yet I don't think we realize how much we carry around this fixed mindset, especially when it comes to intelligence. This can be a very dangerous mindset when it comes to our children. When we tell our children or our students "you are smart" we are unwittingly passing along a fixed mindset. This kind of vague praise doesn't give room to grow and learn, instead it can create a fear of risk and a fear of looking stupid.

"...in the fixed mindset, effort is not a cause for pride. It is something that casts doubt on your talent." (Dweck, p 99) I think we can apply this concept to teachers and technology. Sometimes, successful, experienced teachers will be very resistant to exploring new technologies. These teachers may be exhibiting a fixed mindset. They feel what they are doing works, they think of themselves as "good" teachers. If they try something new and fail, then they will no longer be "good" teachers.

The phrase "a born teacher" plays right into a fixed mindset. Good teachers are good teachers because they work at it, because of the experience they have working with many children over the years, of trying different things with different kids and seeing what works. Teachers are not born, they are made.

I have so much more to say about this, but I'll stop here for now. This book should be required reading for all teachers and parents. It will open your mind to so many possibilities! Stay tuned for more.

Click here to listen to an interview with Dr. Dweck.

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset. The new psychology of success. Random House Inc. New York. 2006.
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