On the other hand, people with a growth mindset believe we can cultivate these characteristics through effort and that the process of cultivating them is more important than the actual outcome. People with a growth mindset see obstacles as opportunities to improve and learn, and by being faced with them and, generally something new, we get smarter.
Dweck mentions how saying “not yet” to young people is a much better way to show them that even if they have difficulties overcoming something now, the time will come when they will succeed if they continue tackling the obstacle from different angles. The use of 'yet' shows that there is a learning curve, and points to the process, not the outcome.
Those with a fixed mindset:
- Avoid challenges due to fear of failure
- Give up easily
- See effort as temporary
- Get frustrated or ignores feedback or criticism
- Feel threatened by the success of others
Those with a growth mindset:
So how is a growth mindset developed?
- Embrace challenges
- Push through setbacks
- Believe that effort is most important
- Use feedback and criticism as a way to improve
- Are inspired by others
- Learn from the success of others
Changing from a 'fixed' to a 'growth' mindset isn't easy but can help young people learn new skills in every area of their life.
As a rule for change, and this applies to all of us, become aware of your thoughts. When you have a 'fixed thought' realise that's not helping the situation. Instead of saying 'I'm no good at learning a language,' add the word 'yet' to the end of the sentence. This reminds you that you can be good at it – it will just take time and effort to grow.
Another important point that Dweck makes is that a growth mindset is developed through praise. This isn’t about blanketing children in praise for any of their efforts, but about praising the strategies they used and the entire process that leads to outcomes. In other words, we should praise the process, not the abilities. Praising abilities encourages the fixed mindset that these things are set in stone, which definitely doesn’t promote change or development. Rather, it makes children think that what they can do is what they can do and the same applies for what they can’t do.
Insisting on the process until the obstacle is overcome, and praising that effort, teaches young people that they need to change their strategies in order solve the problem. It also shows them they can use all the resources available and ask for help when they need it.
Finally, Dweck points out that even disappointment should be addressed as something that enhances learning. We can ask children “What is this teaching us? What should we do next?” A switch to a growth mindset would help them achieve so much more and help them in their future lives.
Now, for the encouraging news. Dweck says it is never too late for change, so why not try it on yourself, too, and see how it goes.
Scott James, Headmaster
Reference: Carol Dweck, 'MindSet'