The research of the American Professor, Carol Dweck, suggests that there are two fundamental approaches which we can use when we encounter difficult learning or life challenges. One of these approaches will serve you well and carry you to many successes in life. The other will keep you stuck.
The first approach, she calls the Growth Mindset, sees all challenges as opportunities to learn. Even though the lesson is hard, and failure may be encountered, this mindset always pushes us forward to learn and try a little bit harder. This can be contrasted with the Fixed Mindset, in which we are seen either to have the skills required, or we don’t, and if we encounter problems it is because we have reached our limits, and therefore we stop or give up.
We see these two approaches in young children as they struggle to learn new things. Some children persevere and see learning as a challenge. Other children give up at the first encounter with frustration. They believe they can’t go any further because they don’t have the skills or abilities to continue. Needless to say, children with the Growth Mindset go on to achieve far greater successes in education and life in general.
Dweck’s research suggests that in order to encourage a Growth Mindset we should focus on a child’s efforts and not their ‘talents’. So, saying, “Well done, you have worked so hard at that”, will always be better than, “Well done, you are so clever”. The other powerful word to encourage is the word ‘Yet’. When people with a growth mindset encounter problems and failure, they often say that they haven’t got there ‘yet’. It’s a small word, but the impact can determine great success or failure.
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