I have just finished reading Chapter 1 of “Mindset” by Dr Carol S. Dweck. Dweck is a psychologist who researched what kids did when they failed! She would give them a series of puzzles to solve and watched and probed their thinking and feelings as the puzzles got progressively harder.
What do you do when presented with a difficult problem?
Dweck found that there were some kids who said things like “I love a challenge”.
“What’s wrong with them? I wondered. I always thought you coped with failure or you didn’t cope with failure….I was determined to understand the kind of mindset that could turn a failure into a gift….What did they know? They knew that human qualities, such as intellectual skills, could be cultivated through effort. And that’s what they were doing – getting smarter. Not only weren’t they discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were failing. They thought they were learning.”
“I on the other hand thought human qualities were carved in stone. You were smart or you weren’t and failure meant you weren’t.”(page 4)
From 20 years of research Dweck then put forward 2 different mindsets.
*The fixed mindset believes your qualities are carved in stone.
*The growth mindset is based on the belief that your qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.
Which mindset you dominately use effects greatly your attitude towards challenging situations and in many ways the way you live your life.
As a example of how the mindset effects us, Dweck used the situation of a student getting a poor result for an exam followed by walking out to find a parking ticket on the car, followed by calling a friend to have a whinge and the friend is quite distance.
A person with a fixed mindset blames themselves and life is unfair and I’m no good and my friend now hates me.
Whereas a person with a growth mindset decides they could have worked harder in class and yes it was a bad place to park the car and something must be up with my friend.
People with a growth mindset, when things are difficult are able to take risks, confront the challenges and keep working at them. (page 9)
As a sit typing this and thinking about the first chapter I have read, and keenly waiting for the time to keep reading the book, I realise that I am perhaps a fixed mindset person. There have been different ideas I have for a parenting workshop, using the information I have researched and used on this blog and yet it all seems too hard and doors have not easily opened and anyway the blog isn’t growing like I thought etc etc. To turn this thinking into a growth mindset, it all looks different. I need to give it a go. What changes can I make? Am I afraid of taking a risk and ‘just doing it’?
But, this is not all about me. What does a fixed or growth mindset mean for kids. What about the kids I saw in class this morning? Surely a growth mindset for a kid and a belief in a growth mindset from a teacher can make a huge difference?
As my own kids return home today I can see some interesting conversations – a lot of food for thought and I’m sure there will be a lot more as I continue on in the book.