Understanding Mindset: The Power of Believing You Can Do It!
Oct 27, 2020 | By: Kathy Griswold Fine, PhD
In era of when many young people worry more about academic grades than unplanned pregnancy or drinking (article published in The Economist), it is apparent that a growth mindset has the potential to be a game changer for a generation described as, “stressed, depressed and exam-obsessed.”
Mindset, like grit and resilience, is a term that is often thrown around by parents, educators, and students. But what does is mean and why is it important?
According to Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, “in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment” (2015). Conversely, in a fixed mindset, people believe that their abilities are fixed and can’t really be changed.
For my money, my growth mindset has served me well in my own academic and professional trajectories, and more importantly in my work with students. My growth mindset means that where some see no point and wasted effort, I see opportunity; while some shut down when faced with obstacles, I get creative, believing that most can be overcome. Can everything be overcome? Of course not. But a lot can!
4 Strategies to Promote a Growth Mindset
Praise effort and learning over “natural” talent
Use the word, “yet,” more often. Instead of saying, “this is hard, everyone struggles,” say, “this is tough. Don’t beat yourself up that you can’t do it yet.”
Teach the value of facing a challenge by encouraging and supporting perseverance
Don’t avoid abstract concepts, instead discuss them
Bottom line: Understanding what a growth mindset is and teaching this to students is just the beginning. Ultimately, everyone involved with helping students succeed must acknowledge that at the most basic level, information about a growth mindset and its impact is acquired by students who feel supported through challenges and acknowledged for success by trusted adults.