I’ve been a Carol Dweck junkie for the past few years. Her work on Growth vs. Fixed Mindset has really helped cement some of my beliefs on what the greater purpose of education should be beyond parabolas, homeostasis and any other specific piece of content. If you’re not familiar with her work and would like to find out about it, there are plenty of good videos and articles widely available on the Internet. However, my first exposure to reading her work came in an article through Educational Leadership. The article initially came out in 2007, but I didn’t read it until a few years later. That article is linked as the first link below.

The premise of Growth mindset vs. Fixed mindset is fairly simple. Growth mindset folks believe that they can improve their current understanding of a topic, performance on a task, etc. They still believe in ability or talent, and understand that some individuals are more naturally adept at certain things than others. However, they believe that a process-driven effort can help improve their current performance. Folks with a Fixed mindset, however, believe that their innate ability is the driving force in determining their level of performance. They are simply good at some things and not good at others, no matter how hard they try or more accurately what they try.

Recently, Dweck sat for an interview regarding “false growth mindsets.” This was pivotal in my decision to share this information. Growth mindset, if we aren’t careful, can be portrayed as an all out love fest, praising every single positive action that a student may make. However, praising effort that is not purposeful and does not work toward the result that the student wants would be promoting a false growth mindset. Praising, supporting and modeling effort that is purposeful, includes reflection and demonstrates progress toward the goal is helping to create true growth mindsets in our students.

Educational Leadership Article: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct07/vol65/num02/The-Perils-and-Promises-of-Praise.aspx

The Atlantic Article: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/12/how-praise-became-a-consolation-prize/510845/

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