By now most of us have read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. It is a very influential book and one that I think is a foundation of our human interaction. I recently came across an Education Week article that Dr. Dweck wrote in September 2015 about her original book.
Since Dr. Dweck’s book grew in popularity some have criticized her for what they see as an overuse of praise for students in their learning. In the Education Week article Dr. Dweck clarifies that the growth mindset was intended to close achievement gaps in students, not hide them. It is about telling the truth about a student’s current achievement and then, together, doing something about it. She goes on to say that she fears that the mindset work is sometimes used by professionals to justify why some students are not learning: “Oh, he has a fixed mindset.” In other words, blaming the child’s environment or ability.
Dr. Dweck goes on to say, “Must it always come back to finding a reason why some children just can’t learn, as opposed to finding a way to help them learn.”
As the Superintendent of Mauston Schools, I am proud to say that I work alongside teachers and support staff who understand the power of growth mindset and they do all that they can to unlock the learning for their students. I encourage all of us to continue to watch out for our fixed-mindset triggers when we face challenges each day with our students. We all have fixed mindsets from time to time and our ongoing challenge is to work through our feelings and defenses so that our students learn to grow and adapt. Our work is complex, not simple and I applaud all educators for seeing that we hold the most important role in applying our mindsets.