Carol Dweck – Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

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Mind = Blown.  I remember taking an introductory psychology class in my first year of university as a filler class, something that would take up space and still give me credit.  I remember it completely fascinating me.  Though at the time I didn’t think you could make a career out of it (I’m a Math and Science guy).

Now, roughly 15 years later I pick up this book by Dr. Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success that completely blew my mind.  Who knew praising a child for being smart could actually lower their IQ?  Dr. Carol Dweck has researched this phenomenon for over 40 years and experiment after experiment she comes to the same conclusion – we need to praise people for their effort over the outcome.  Don’t tell someone how smart they are.  Instead, tell them how hard they worked.

Dr. Dweck coins two terms which are now very common, fixed mindsets and growth mindsets.  Someone with a fixed mindset believes abilities and talents are innate and generally can’t improve very much.  You’ve heard people say, “my dad wasn’t good at Math, so I won’t be”.  As if such a Math gene existed.

On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset thinks abilities and talents are grown through hard work and positive attitude.  In this mindset mistakes and failures are seen as learning tools.  Thomas Edison’s quote comes to mind, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work”.

The neat thing about the book Mindset is that it is a book, an easy to read narrative made up of everyday language instead of a hard backed psychology textbook written for university students.  One thing I’m not too sure about is that Dr. Dweck seemed to imply that every decision we made was because of our fixed or growth mindset.  If you got upset after striking out it was because you had a fixed mindset.  If you were slighted by a friend but you didn’t get upset it was because you had a growth mindset, etc.  I don’t know about that.

Fascinating read.  I will definitely be spending more time teaching my students about a growth mindset.

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