Book: Carol Dweck’s Mindset

Just finished reading Carol Dweck’s ‘Mindset – The New Psychology of Success’.

I think this is an important book for anyone involved in education and very worthwhile for the general reader. Her theory is that there are two basic ways of looking at the world – or ‘mindsets’. One is a ‘fixed mindset’ in which intelligence, talent, ability and skill are fixed. Success in the fixed mindset is about showing how smart you.  The other view is the ‘growth mindset’ where success follows learning and failure suggests more effort is required rather than being a statement on any innate qualities.

Dweck draws on the creative sphere, sport, business leadership  and importantly from the world of education and parenting to construct and illustrate her argument.

Lots here for teachers and parents especially around positive and negative labels. Most teachers and parents understand how negative labels, eg stupid, clumsy etc, can be destructive. Dweck’s research also points to the destructive nature of positive labels, eg clever, smart, skillfull, talented, creative etc. These positive labels tend to build a fixed mindset, create a fear of failure and consequently hinder both learning and long-term success.

Dweck has recently been working with Winning Scotland Foundation and LTS is currently exploring a small scale pilot of her Brainology computer program.

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  1. It’s odd how, in Scotland’s education system, we recognise the damaging effect of the “fixed mindset”, yet more or less encourage it through deeply embedded practices like setting.

    There are some good videos summarising her ideas here:

    Look forward to following your links.

  2. laurie

    Thanks for this comment and for the link to the videos. I especially like the one on the damage done by praising a student’s intelligence, ie reinforcing a fixed mindset: