The concept of a "growth mindset" — as opposed to a "fixed mindset" — was revealed in 2006 by Carol Dweck, a Stanford University professor, in her pathbreaking book "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success." Knowing more about mindset flexibility can greatly help parents and teachers with their children's education.
How smart or how good you are at math — these are skills that everyone can change and improve through their own efforts and with help from others. This type of mindset can make a huge difference. Research has shown that people with a growth mindset embrace challenges more easily, persist longer in the face of setbacks, learn more from their mistakes, feel a greater sense of control over their lives, and are better motivated.
According to a 2021 report from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), students with a strong growth mindset scored higher on all subjects compared to their peers who thought their intelligence was unchangeable. Dweck and other researchers discovered that teaching children about the capacity of their brain to evolve could directly affect their aptitude for achievement. On their side, schools have also taken note and have started to encourage kids to see effort as a positive way to performance and success.
There are, however, some common pitfalls with the growth mindset approach. First, you can't fake it. For example, some educators who believe strongly in the benefits of the concept for their students may say they themselves are not "a math person." The same kind of problem happens with some parents who declare: "I messed that up." or "I, myself, am not very good at this or that." These are proof that they actually do not understand the principle of a growth mindset very well.
Moreover, it's easy to miss the mark regarding stating "hard work." Some parents say, "You worked so hard," even when the child didn't. That's an empty and counterproductive compliment.
Picture: Mindset - Professor Carol S. Dweck