Mindset. The New Psychology of Success

Author: Carol S Dweck, Ph.D.

You may have seen her presenting on a TED Talk. It was titled "The Power of Believing You Can Improve". She's one of the world's leading researchers in the fields of personality, social psychology, and development psychology. 

This book, published in 2007, remains an essential read for parents and teachers, but I think it's a good read for everyone.

She acknowledges that people may begin life with different temperaments and aptitudes, but there is no doubt that experience, learning, and personal effort take them along the rest of their life journey. 

Her research over 20 years has shown that the view you adopt for yourself, affects how you lead your life in profound ways. It determines whether you become the person you want to be, or not.

Mindset is essentially about two types of mindset: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

These fixed and growth mindset types aren't biological descriptions; they are belief descriptions. 

A person with a fixed mindset believes that many aspects of a person are fixed from birth and can't be changed such as personality and intelligence. If you're born funny, lucky you. If you were born shy, bad luck. If you were born with a "maths" brain then top of the maths class you go. For everyone else, don't bother trying to get to the top of the class, you'll never get there.

On the other hand, a person with a growth mindset believes that intelligence can be developed. That if you put in the effort, you're on the road to mastery. That any criticism is an opportunity to learn rather than something to ignore. That setbacks are an opportunity to keep persisting. 

It's simple stuff in many ways but so important. 

Telling our kids how smart they are is suggesting to them their "smartness" is a fixed trait. "You're so brilliant, you got an A without even studying!" Sounds supportive? A child may interpret it as "I'd better quit studying or they won't think I'm brilliant".

So how can parents and teachers be supportive and at the same time encourage a growth mindset? Instead of praising smartness, Dweck suggests we praise them for growth i.e. what they've accomplished through practise, study, persistence, and good strategies.

I think it's a classic.

Michelle Carlyle