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Blogger and educator Larry Ferlazzo partners with Carol Dweck, Ph.D. and Lisa Sorich Blackwell, Ph.D in this article.
This blog post is re-posted from Larry Ferlazzo's blog.
As Professor Carol Dweck -- one of the authors of today's guest response and the developer of the Growth Mindset concept -- has written elsewhere:
Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence is simply an inborn trait--they have a certain amount, and that's that. In contrast, individuals with a growth mindset believe that they can develop their intelligence over time.
Thanks to Professor Dweck's work, I have been explicitly applying this concept in the classroom for the past few years, but won't take up space here to share my experiences. Instead, I've developed a list of resources you can access here.
We're lucky today to have Professor Dweck and Dr. Lisa Blackwell, the co-founder of the organization designed to help schools be more effective in helping students develop growth mindsets, as the co-authors of today's guest response. In addition, several readers offer their comments.
A growth mindset about mistakes
We can deepen our own and our students' understanding of mistakes, which are not all created equal, and are not always desirable. After all, our ability to manage and learn from mistakes is not fixed. We can improve it.
A growth mindset is the understanding that personal qualities and abilities can change. It leads people to take on challenges, persevere in the face of setbacks, and become more effective learners. As more and more people learn about the growth mindset, which was first discovered by Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, we sometimes observe some confusions about it. Recently some critiques have emerged. Of course we invite critical analysis and feedback, as it helps all of us learn and improve, but some of the recent commentary seems to point to misunderstandings of growth mindset research and practice. This article summarizes some common confusions and offers some reflections.
Does what you think about your ability really matter? If you had asked me that question a few years ago, my response would have been, “No, not really.” But over the past two years, I've changed from the negative, stressed-out, perfectionist teenage girl I was my freshman year to the joyful person I am today. Now, my response is much different.
Just Tell Me What To Do
One of the most frustrating classroom experiences occurs when students disengage from learning because they're scared to be wrong. As a teacher, I met many students who wanted someone to just give them the answer and now with my own children, I see it again. In many schools, students will sit and wait for the answer, whether that answer comes from another student or from the teacher. And if that answer doesn't come, many are unwilling to look for one themselves. Students often feel that the quest is only for the "right" answer, and they are more willing to wait and copy it down than to risk the possibility of putting in the work only to find out that it was wrong. Unfortunately, this perspective oftentimes generates surface learning, not deep learning. It can interfere with a student's entire notion of what learning is, causing them to think that school is a place to complete work, rather than grow one's mind.