In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.
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.
While researching for a project recently, I came across Dr. Carol Dweck’s idea of fixed mindset vs. growth mindset. As more schools work to build 21st Century Skills in their students,greater numbers of teachers are trying to foster the growth mindset in their classrooms. Initially, I assumed a growth mindset had to do with students creating goals and monitoring their progress, either individually or as a class. I was wrong. So what is a fixed mindset? What is a growth mindset? According to Dweck’s website, in a nutshell:
At The BERC Group, we visit many schools for many reasons. More often than not, they are struggling and under-performing. This fall, I had the privilege of visiting a once-failing school in a high poverty neighborhood. Despite its almost 100% free/reduced lunch status, extreme diversity, and high level of academic needs, the school had made great strides in improving student performance. Reflecting back upon many other schools I have visited, I wondered how the vibe at this particular school could be so different. Where were their excuses? Weren’t they frustrated by the deficits of the clientele they serve? Why didn’t they blame their circumstances like so many other schools?
One of the biggest differences I could identify comes down to a simple shift in philosophy: the leaders of this school ran it like a business, and everyone behaved like a professional. This is not to say that administrators and teachers at other schools are not professionals, but many schools do not adhere to such high standards. Let me see if I can explain the nuances of this difference.
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