Growth Mindset and Effort

Another coaching colleague provided our “ponder question” for today.

Hi Stephen,
I am one of the reading teachers who has been attending your coaching sessions in Fairfax County, VA. The other day something happened that gave me such a huge connection to something we discussed at our last meeting with you, so I wanted to share it with you.

My seventh grade daughter came home from middle school with a reading assignment from her English teacher. The assignment was to read a prescribed article and discuss various points with a parent. The article generated a great deal of discussion, and I kept wondering in the back of my mind where I had heard these terms before.

The article was from Scientific American, and it was about the “growth mindset” vs. the “fixed mindset” of intelligence. I’m including a link to the article in case you haven’t seen it. My daughter and I were to read the article, discuss it, and talk about our views of which mindset the schools are fostering (that one was very interesting).
Here is the link: The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

Donna Mecca

Donna remembered the slide I presented on growth mindset.

What is your view of ABILITY?
Fixed or Growth

The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way— in their initial talents and aptitudes, interest or temperaments— everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

Mindset………The New Psychology of Success
Carol Dweck
2006

I had reported on this book by Carol Dweck in a previous blog.

I wrote back to Donna to hear more about the conversation with her daughter. Here is her response.

I thought the most interesting point my daughter made was surrounding her perceptions of which mindset the school is fostering. Taking herself as an example, she has struggled with some learning issues over her years which means she has had to work much harder (and longer) than most of her peers. With that in mind, she is taking all honors classes in middle school and persevering as long as it takes her to keep up with the work load. We are so proud of the fact that she is keeping up, and actually she is proud too. At the end of the first marking period, she proudly shared her report card which included all As and a B plus. We were thrilled, especially being aware of the extra effort on her part to achieve this. The next day, the middle school parents received an announcement that there would be a special ceremony to be held at the school (during the school day) to honor the students who had received “all As” on their report card. Children who worked extra hard but may not have received all As were not invited to attend, so of course my daughter (who had a B plus on her report card) was not invited to attend. My daughter’s comment was “Now, what kind of mindset is that fostering?” Interesting…

Donna’s daughter raises a very important question. We should all be exploring how our practices might change to teach and promote effort.

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One Response to “ Growth Mindset and Effort ”

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Steve Barkley

For the past 30 years, Steve has served as a consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally, facilitating the changes necessary for them to reach students and successfully prepare them for the 21st century. Read more…

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