In recent weeks, as an agency, we have been talking and looking at the idea of “mindset” in particular the idea of “growth mindset” versus “fixed mindset”. This idea was coined by Dr. C. Dweck from Stanford University. She describes fixed mindset is the idea that intelligence and talent are fixed, that they are things we are born with no real work you do will change the outcome. A growth mindset reflects your belief that hard work and effort can change outcomes.
Through Dr. Dweck’s research we can see the important power of mindset and the tremendous impact it can have on long term outcomes. Of particular interest to me, was the look at process orientated feedback. Praising children for how smart or talented they are feels, intuitively, that we are helping them develop high self esteems. However, if the implication is success is because we are smart, then is when we don’t succeed is it because we are not smart? Rather, if we focus on how hard our children are working and how that hard work changes their brain as they learn then when they encounter a problem or don’t do as well, we are more inclined to believe that working harder can change that outcome. This describes the “power of yet”. I have not learned that “yet”.
In thinking of this I was reminded of one of the strategies we used for my son when he was younger. We put a white board behind his door. On one side, it said things “I am good at”, on the other side it said stuff “I am working on”. Over time he saw things he was working on move to things he was good at. What he saw was hard work changed the list. It occurred to me that our kids hear to often what the need to work on, but how often do they get credit for how far they have come? How often are we praising the process of learning, like sticking with it and trying hard?
Learning to be a learner is as important as success. In fact for children that struggle with learning, praise for effort and persistence are more important than success. Don’t forget to reinforce trying, it could make all the difference in building that growth mind set.