Tag Archives: growth mindset

The growth mindset and success

Which statement describes what you believe:?

  1. You can learn new things but you really can’t change your IQ very much.  It is just something that is just part of your DNA.
  2. You can not only learn new things but substantially change how intelligent you are.

In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck distinguishes between two very different mindsets that she discovered among students in her research.  She describes them like this:

The fixed mindset is one where the student believes that their personality, their intelligence, ability or skill is unchangeable.  Consequently, if you believe in the fixed mindset and do well in school you were obviously born smart and without too much effort you will ace the next test and ultimately the class.  If you were born with athletic ability, you will be an asset to the team and while you will benefit from training you’ve got what it takes to be a star.  The flip side of this mindset is the belief that if you were born without the necessary intelligence or athletic ability, it doesn’t matter how much effort you put in, you will not be successful or attain your goals.  Students with fixed mindsets tend to avoid challenges and situations that seem too hard.  They tend to avoid failure by sticking to things that they know they can master easily.

The growth mindset is one where a student believes that their personality, intelligence, ability or skill is changeable and with focused effort and training they can change the outcome.  If you are failing algebra class, you can redouble your efforts, learn the necessary material and pass the class.  If you aren’t the best athlete on your team, you can train and develop the necessary skill you need to become a top notch team player. Students with growth mindsets tend to embrace challenges. Rather than wallow in failure or give up when the going gets tough, they focus instead on the process necessary to attain the goal.

While Dweck distinguishes between the two separate mindsets, she is quick to point out that they frequently overlap.  A student may believe that they are just plain dumb in math and can’t master it, while at the same time believing that with enough effort and practice they can become the next Michael Jordan.  The important piece of the equation is recognizing the mindset and teaching children not just how to cope with failure but how to think about  failure as a learning process and a stepping stone to a goal.

Changing Fixed to Growth

Here’s how we as adults can  help children develop a growth mindset, (yes even our mindset can be changed)…

  • Help children recognize that learning is truly a life long process.  We never arrive at the final destination.  No matter how advanced your knowledge of math, or technology or a sport, there is always more to learn.  That is why the great athletes still have coaches.
  • Help children re-frame failure and disappointing results as an opportunity to learn and grow.  Encourage them to ask “What can I learn from this?” and “Where is the opportunity in this?” rather than focus on comparing themselves to others’ results and abilities.
  • Help children measure growth and success by comparing their current abilities with where they started rather than comparing their current ability with the end result or someone else.  While goals help us chart the course, it is not a good yardstick for achievement.

Finally, one of the best ways to influence the children in your life is by recognizing and if necessary, changing your own mindset from fixed to growth.  Make sure you are modeling and reinforcing a growth mindset in all you do.

Related posts

Creating a growth mindset in kids

Helping kids find their voice

Why failing first leads to success

Check out how Wyatt’s Grandmother helps him develop a growth mindset…

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)

 

What if failure is really a gift?

Your child is up at bat and strikes out.  She throws down the bat and stomps off the field,  tears in her eyes.

While doing his homework, your child can’t figure out the answer to a math problem. He crumples up his entire paper in frustration and slams the book closed.  Not a chance of starting over tonight.

Educators today often refer to encouraging a growth mindset in children.  What does this mean?  Given the fast pace of the world that we live in it is critical that children learn to use critical thinking and problem solving as a way of life.  Gone are the days when reading, writing and ‘rithmetic were the staples of a child’s education curriculum. Today we are concerned with not only what children learn but how they learn and how they can apply that ability to challenges they will face in everyday life.

Two Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset

Begin by re-framing the idea of imperfection and failure.  In the past we were all taught to strive for perfection.  Practice makes perfect was the motto.  However, focusing on striving for perfection can create an environment where imperfection and failure is not tolerated or is avoided.  Instead, re-frame imperfection as a part of the unique person that we all are.  

 In a previous post, I wrote about the benefits of embracing our limitations and how something beautiful can come from that.  In her book, The Gift of Imperfection,  Brene Brown shares research that shows when we acknowledge our imperfections and actually consider them the building blocks that shape us and make us who we are, then we develop into a more joyful and resilient person.

Sean Stevenson, motivational speaker, was born with osteogenesis imperfecta not expected to live past birth.  He identifies accepting his disability as a gift rather than a burden a being a turning point in his life. It was this decision that has shaped his life as a successful motivational speaker and teacher.  In a growth mindset, challenges become opportunities for self-improvement.

The second way to develop a growth mindset is to actually welcome all opportunities to learn and grow especially those where there is the risk of failure.  We learn more from our failures than we ever do from our successes.  Of course this is hard to accept when we are in the midst of a failing experience but think back over your own history.  Aren’t there important lessons that you have learned from failure, even if it was to try a different path?  Taking imperfect action and accepting that failure is often a consequence of taking risks,can be a gift, but it takes a proactive mindset to learn and grow from the benefits of each.  

Related Posts:

What if You Embrace the Difficulty?

Why Failing First Leads to Success

4 Secret Skills Kids Need Today

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)

 

 

Why failing first leads to success.

He won’t do any work in class.

She never turns in homework.

She is capable, but doesn’t work up to her potential…

If you have been  an educator for any length of time, you’ve had a child like this in your classroom. You’ve tried every strategy that you can think of–nothing is working.

Maybe you are a parent with a child  like this right now and you are out of ideas…

What can you do?

One of the amazing things about children in particular but really all of us, is that the brain has an infinite capacity to change.  In the not too distant past, we used to think that once certain habits or behavior was established that people rarely changed.  We now know that the brain continues to develop well into the 20’s and that we can make major changes in everything from our outlook to the way that we function for our entire lives.  This is called brain  plasticity.

How do we make the most of this amazing human quality?  One of the ways is by encouraging children to develop a growth mindset that basically says, “Excellence is a process.  Failure is not the end of the road but instead it is how you learn.”

Here is a video that illustrates this well:

Knowing that how you handle mistakes, failure and losing is an important indicator of how successful you are, how can we best encourage students?

In their excellent book, Switch, Chip and Dan Heath, describe a study with students who were doing poorly in math.  They  were divided into two groups.  One group spent time in a a generic study skills class.  The other group spent time in a growth mindset class where they were taught that the mind is like a muscle.  The more you work it, the smarter you become. They were reminded of how they had learned non-academic skills like skateboarding and how everything is hard before you master it.

The results?  The study skills group continued to have declining grades.  However, the growth mindset group significantly outperformed the  other group.  They reversed the downward trend, some of them dramatically.  Teachers who were unaware of the group students  were assigned to, were asked to identify the students who had made the most positive gain.  Seventy-five percent of the students they identified were in the growth mindset group.

What is truly amazing about this study is that the students improved in math, a cumulative subject and they  were not taught anything specific  to math skills!  Think about this for a moment;  just learning that you have the ability to learn and excel despite failure, caused students to improve in a specific skill.

How can you apply this information to students that you know?

How does this apply outside of the academic environment?

Related Posts:

3 Ways to Teach You Child to be a Leader

What if you embrace the difficulty?

Focusing on Joyful Parenting

 

Stuff Parents Want to Know:  Answers to Frequently Asked Questions 

In twenty years of school counseling I’ve been asked a lot of questions.  This ebook is a compilation of some of the most common ones along with some effective strategies and books you can read with your child to address the problem. stuffparents   Click on the link below to purchase:

Stuff Parents Want to Know: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

4 secret skills that kids need to succeed today

Remember a major disappointment or failure from you own childhood?

Trying out for a team or a group and not making the cut?

Not getting included in a party invitation or missing out on a special occasion?

Losing  a friendship or a loved one?

Bet you remember the details of those times like it was yesterday… It’s events like these that shape our lives in ways that success and positive experiences never will.  What you learned and how you handled those situations will forever influence the decisions you make in the present.

Much of the focus of education today is teaching and measuring academic skills that children will need as they enter the work world in the 21st century.  However the world is changing more rapidly than ever and it’s a good bet that the facts that we teach today won’t even matter much in the work world of tomorrow.

What can we teach kids that won’t change with the times?  Interpersonal and character building skills is the answer hands down.  These are skills that will be useful regardless of how much the world changes.

Here are some critical skills that kids need to learn at school, at home and in their communities:

  • Integrity- Developing a sense of honesty and a moral compass.  Helping children question and establish their beliefs about others and the world is critical to the conscientious adult they will become.
  • Grit–Learning to handle failure and disappointment.  Unfortunately, life is full of disappointments and developing the resolve to handle them will determine whether your child powers through them or gives up when faced with challenges.
  • Problem solving and Critical thinking skills-Learning to think outside the norm and to consider different options is a key ability for children do develop.  Children who always expect the adults in their lives to fix problems will grow up to be adults who look outside themselves for others to fix problems when they are faced with them.  And lets face it…no one lives in a problem free bubble.
  • Growth mindset-always be a learner.  Children who early on develop a love of learning become adults who are continually growing into all they can become.

Here’s a great book to teach all the above concepts to kids

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)