Breaking Through the Academic Fixed Mindset


Reposted from Edudemic:

When you have a fixed mindset, you believe that at a certain point, what you have is all you’re ever going to have: You’ll always have a set IQ. You’re only qualified for the career you majored in. You’ll never be any better at playing soccer or dating or taking risks. Your life and character are as certain as a map. The problem is, this mindset will make you complacent, rob your self-esteem and bring meaningful education to a halt. In short, it’s an intellectual disease and patently untrue.

If you’re regularly praised for your intelligence by a teacher or parent, for example, you internalize that praise. It becomes a part of your identity. You work to prove yourself over and over again in just one area. If you’re then criticized or discouraged when you fail, you also internalize that negative feedback and try to avoid it at all costs. When something threatens your competence, you let it threaten you. Rather than take risks and make moves to grow in your understanding – which might mean you get things wrong or that your intelligence is called into question – you defend against having to grow because it might mean you’ll fail.

The growth mindset is the opposite of the fixed: It thrives on challenge and sees failure as an opportunity for growth. It creates a passion for learning instead of a hunger for approval. It seems like a mere platitude to say “If you believe you can do something, you can.” It’s not an easy belief because building practically any skill is hard. When setbacks, crushed expectations, and critics gather and compound, it’s much easier to ascribe ability to talent and give up. Dr. Carol Dweck, however, has found that the platitude is correct. Her research has shown a correlation between accepting intellectual limitations and actually learning more!

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