My Latest Read: Mindset…The New Psychology of Success

This book, Mindset… The New Psychology of Succes, by Dr Carol S Dweck examines the impact of a fixed or growth mindset regarding ability: (Dweck pg 6-7)

Fixed mindset– believing that your qualities are carved in stone… you have a certain amount of intelligence, personality, moral character.

Growth mindset– believing that your basic qualities are things that you can cultivate through your efforts… Everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

While reading about how our mindset impacts all areas of our life, about how geniuses in music, literature, science, business, and sports apply a growth mindset, and about how we can change our mindset to create success, I considered some connections to my recent work:

While working with administrators in Fairfax County Schools in Virginia, we explored the Board of Education’s revised goals for student achievement. One goal identified as Essential Life Skills states,”All students will demonstrate the aptitude, attitude, and skills to lead responsible, fulfilling, and respectful lives.”

Should we be teaching for a growth oriented mindset as part of our life skills curriculum? What discussions would you imagine teachers and students be having? Do you have some strategies for promoting growth orientation for your students?

In my work with reading, math, and instructional coaches around the country (click to see all that PLS has on Coaching), I often hear coaches frustrations when working with reluctant teachers who report being “fine” (in no need of growth or change). Dweck (pg127) suggest that Jack Welch (past General Electric CEO and author) had a better thought when he described self confidence as the courage to be open-to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source. Self confidence is reflected in your mindset: your openness to grow. I was recently training mentors for beginning teachers and suggested that we need administrators to build the “ready to grow” speech into their orientation sessions for new teachers. I believe that new teachers were not hired for what they know and can do…but because the administration felt they were ready to learn what it will take to be successful.

In the closing chapter, Dweck (pg 238) had a powerful statement that should guide our work as teachers, administrators, and school leaders:
When we change to a growth mindset we change from a judge and be judged framework to a learn and help learn framework. Our commitment is to growth, and growth takes time, effort, and mutual support.

Lots to think about…

Reference-Mindset … The New Psychology of Success Carol S. Dweck, PH.D.
Random House/New York
2006

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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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