Sunday, 26 November 2017 14:12

    Praise Effort, Not Smarts - Growth Mindset

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    The terms "fixed mindset" and "growth mindset" were first introduced by Professor Carol Dweck. Simply put, students with a fixed mindset are more afraid to fail since they perceive their skills as something "absolute". This makes failure practically unbearable, especially in social situations like in a classroom. Students with a growth mindset see failure as a growth opportunity.

    Of course, these two images are extremes on either side of reality. Any student's mindset is on a spectrum between fixed and growth mindset. But what factors play into the type of mindset a student develops? A lot comes down to the type of praise students receive as a child. Were students praised for effort or for what their actions say about them as a person? If kids are praised for their effort ("good job trying!"), they learn that the outcome is less important than their efforts. If kids are praised for who they are when they successfully complete a task ("you are good at this!", "you're smart!", or even "you're a good problem-solver!"), they feel like they have earned a label that they might lose if they should ever underperform at this task, or say or do something not deserving of this label. Incidentally, this "you are good at this"-praise comes naturally with kids who are disciplined learners, or who we would like to see as disciplined learners, or who we want to shield from the cruelty of perceived failure (maybe because last time it ended in tears).

    Dweck (read more) finds that girls disproportionately grow up with a fixed mindset. Notably, the most intelligent, self-disciplined and well-behaved girls tend to be praised for outcomes or for who they ostensibly are, while boys tend to be praised for their efforts, for trying and taking risks.

    It's important to note, however, that "grown-ups" all around tend to treat boys and girls differently. Different studies have shown that educators still tend to encourage boys to take risks while encouraging girls to follow a given process. It's still often boys that are encouraged to get their hands dirty and have fun and thus benefit from learning opportunities. It's our mission to fix this! We need to encourage girls to take risks and get their hands dirty. In practice, this might mean to stop shielding them from some of the cruel of their own feelings. But in the long term, we might raise more resilient and happy individuals.

    Carol Dweck's TED Talk: here

    A great video about the main study on mindsetkit.org: here

    Read 251 times Last modified on Tuesday, 28 November 2017 04:10

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