Sign up for our newsletter to become part of the conversation:
** Please enter a valid email to join our community **
Thank you for joing the Mindset Works Community! Check your email for more information.
Educators and parents want their kids to seek challenges and persist through difficulty—but so often, they don't. It's all too familiar: John always takes the easy way out; Angel gives up at the first sign of difficulty; Anna falls apart when she gets a disappointing grade.
Of course, struggling students are especially vulnerable to helplessness and fear of failure. But even high-performing kids fall prey to test anxiety, or avoid that one subject that fills them with dread. Why does this happen? And what can we do about it?
The sad truth is that many students feel very vulnerable in school. For lots of kids, school is above all a place where they are tested and judged—often publicly—and where they feel inadequate. Sometimes, this vulnerability extends to the home, especially if parents place a very high value on perfect performance or are intolerant of failure. It's not what we intend, but it's what they experience.
The good news is that it's within our power to change this, if we know the keys to creating a risk-tolerant home and classroom culture.
Our very own Eduardo Briceño, CEO of Mindset Works delivered a TEDx talk in Manhattan Beach!
Click below to view the talk. Please view it, share it, and like it!
TEDx Talk Summary: The way we understand our intelligence and abilities deeply impacts our success. Based on social science research and real life examples, Eduardo Briceño articulates how mindset, or the understanding of intelligence and abilities, is key.
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.
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.
What do students need in order to take the reins?
This article is adapted from the article "Mindsets and Student Agency" originally published in Unboxed, High Tech High Graduate School of Education's magazine, in their Spring 2013 issue.
Learning happens in the learner's mind. It always does. In fact, the only thing that determines how much learning takes place is what happens in the learner's mind. What happens outside of it is only meaningful to the extent it gives the brain material for it to think.
Wonderful opportunities for learning, such as great instruction, may exist in the classroom or elsewhere, but if the learner's mind is not attentive, not reflective, not engaged, then little learning happens. Yet an engaged mind will make the most out of learning opportunities and further enrich activities and discussions to generate even deeper learning.
But we can't force students to develop agency and drive their own learning. It must come from within. So how do we catalyze that?
Hierarchy of Learner Needs
A large body of research in psychology and education is uncovering the critical elements needed for students to drive their own learning. It points to two essential focus areas that hold the most promise: Learning Mindsets and Learning Strategies & Habits, highlighted in Figure 1 and discussed in the sections that follow.