Author: Carol Dweck
Imagine a world where telling a child he is smart is a bad thing. On the surface, that may one of the dumbest things you've ever heard. Seriously, everyone likes a little pat on the back. It makes us work harder, right? Consider this study done by Carol Dweck...
As it turns out, when I praise a child on his or her ability it creates what Dweck calls a fixed mindset. For instance, if I call you smart, it tells you that "smart" is something that you have or don't have. If a child has me thinking she's smart she wouldn't want to ruin that by doing something hard and messing up. It's better to stick with easy stuff and continue to prove her intelligence. If she's stupid...she's stupid. No need to do anything really hard and making it obvious. So, maybe praising the talent isn't the way to go.
If I praise your efforts I pass along the notion that talent is something to be achieved. You gain success through hard work, creativity, and tenacity. This emphasizes the process which will hopefully create a growth mindset -- finding joy in the journey as opposed to the final product.
We are all imperfect humans, so we all have work to do before we "arrive." Mindset helps us as parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors to help the students under our care gain that growth mindset. Well, let's be honest. It also helps us as humans to adopt a growth mindset for ourselves.
After all, my mindset will dictate how I treat myself AND how I treat the members of my family, the students in my classes, and every person I come into contact with. If I approach my relationships from a fixed mindset, I could very well instill a fixed mindset into those people.
You probably already know this is a book that comes highly recommended by a number of people. I finally decided to dig into it because of my Innovation Classes for next year. I have a feeling that I'll need to convince some students that there is joy in the journey and growth comes through hard work. I'm glad I finally tackled it.
Oh, and I almost subtitled this blog post like this, "Please don't tell my daughter she's smart."