Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets In Children [VIDEO 0:56]

Consider this animated example of fixed versus growth mindset in a math classroom, created by GoStrengths. How can you nurture student willingness to take chances and learn from the outcomes in your classroom?

The Belief Mindset


I spent the past week driving around the upper Midwest with my daughter, looking at prospective law schools. ROAD TRIP! Just her and I. The most time we’ve spent together one-on-one in a long time. And on the final night of the trip, we took advantage of our locale and went to see The Book of Mormon. Unlike her father, Mallory loves Broadway musicals, and she wanted to see this one, written by the creators of South Park. I’m not a fan of South Park, either, but I played the good Dad and got two box seats to attend.

It is an incredible show: amazing, outrageous, compelling, hilarious, offensive, bizarre, thoughtful, irreverent, profound, iconoclastic, scatological, unpredictable, satirical, tongue-in-cheek, in-your-face, over-the-top and out of control, with an amazing musical score and lovable characters with whom it’s easy to identify. And it’s cunningly well-written. For all of its pop-culture trappings, there is nothing random or unintended in the construction of this story. At its climax, it is an exultation of the human spirit, our ability to overcome our shortcomings and circumstances.


Yes, there is the never-ending pot shots against Mormonism (I’ve never seen anything like the “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” number at the outset of the second act); it’s not the normal fare for a father-daughter evening. But as the plot and subplots play themselves out, it becomes evident that this story transcends its cynical jabs at American mysticism. And in the final number it all comes together, when baptized Ugandans become the new missionaries, spreading the word of the Book of Arnold…the flawed, fumbling character weaving Mormon tenets with contemporary symbols and themes to capture the hearts of a destitute African village.

In contrast to Arnold, his partner Kevin idealizes the city of Orlando as a bastion of everything bright and clean and good in life, and he dreams of going there to serve as a missionary. But he comes to realize Orlando is the antithesis of his missionary ideals, with its corporate brand identification, pay-as-you-go escapism, and illusions passing for imagination. Orlando is a destination, not a belief system, and Kevin must work through a crisis in faith. Ultimately, the message is not anti-faith, but pro-belief.


My take away is this: it doesn’t matter what your situation or circumstances are; nor your orientation to the world. It doesn’t matter what you believe…but believe something. BELIEVE…even if it’s unfounded in any basis of fact…even if it is rejected by those around you…because belief fuels the human spirit, and gives one hope even in the direst of circumstances. It makes all things possible. It optimizes human potential, lifting us above where we feel stuck, overwhelmed or abandoned. Belief isn’t right or wrong…it simply is. And a belief system that works for you cannot be refuted.

Arnold5“The Book of Arnold”…the mere title smacks of farce as much as satire. But if we as people (and as professionals) can free ourselves from the industrial-aged beliefs imparted to us, and embrace new beliefs about teaching and learning and preparing children for their future…there is so much more we can accomplish. Much like the Mormon missionaries at the start of the musical, we are held back by a finite, fixed mindset…but with a new generative, belief mindset…our work can become a more meaningful story than all the traditions recorded in all the tomes handed down to us.

Arnold surprised himself when faced with true adversity…finding authentic connections to the here and now in his own heart. I wish that same breakthrough for myself, and for all of you reading this…a breakthrough to a belief mindset…believing in something positive and empowering, liberating and life-fulfilling. And as others see changes take place in your work, it will prompt them to reexamine their own beliefs, too. A natural, logical, experiential propagation of faith…not in a destination, but in ourselves. Let’s write new chapters in a next book…the Book of Human Potential…embracing a future of unforeseen possibilities.

“Wow so the bible is actually a trilogy? And the book of Mormon is the Return of the Jedi? I’m interested!”


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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