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.

" 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.


Anonymous said...

I think your idea about the impact of entity ("fixed") intelligence theories and teachers' willingness to incorporate new technology into their classrooms is hugely relevant and important! In reading the book by Carol Dweck that you loaned to me (thank you so much!), I had just been thinking about the impact of these intelligence theories on students, and thinking only a bit about teachers' previous experiences as students themselves. I hadn't taken it to the next level to think about how these mindsets are influencing teachers' current ideas about themselves as teachers- which, of course, influences their teaching practices. I strongly agree with you that teachers and parents should read Carol Dweck's books. Thanks for pointing me in this direction! Nadene Moll

Anonymous said...

I'm an education student at Grand Valley State University and in a recent Psychology class we learned quite a bit about Dweck's work. Like the previous comment I had only thought to apply that to the students I would be teaching and hadn't really generalized it to anyone else. I too agree that every parent or anyone involved in children's lives should read Carol Dweck's books. I've always been one of the growth intelligence type and it saddened me when others around me were ingrained with the "fixed" type. I glad that some research has and is being done to help educators especially, but parents too, understand how to nurture the minds of their students and children.