Do you have a fixed or fluid mindset?

Occasionally you stumble upon some research that just makes sense. Well this research about the effects of fixed and fluid mindsets on student motivation made sense to me.

Have you heard someone say they just no good at………… maths or whatever…. this suggests they may have a fixed mindset. Carol Dweck says that people’s self-theories about intelligence [in this case their maths intelligence] have a profound influence on their motivation to learn.  

 I watched my older child, who attends specialist skills training in a sport, want specific skills feedback connected to the current drill and the small amount of encouragement or praise they got from the coach went a long way.

It seems counter intuitive that praise can do harm. As parents we often want to lavish praise upon a child expecting that this would build a their self esteem  and provide confidence – well it doesn’t  according to Carol. 

She found that children’s performance worsens if they always hear how smart they are. Carol suggests we should praise children for their effort, their concentration and their strategies. Often “over praise” is about us just wanting to protect our children from failure.

It’s a hard habit to stop.

I raised this topic with teachers at the start of the year and have been busy finding articles to deepen our thinking. This week I had a conversation on mindsets with a small group of parents. There were lots of nods as we spoke. 

There are times we judge each other based on own self similarity, parents and teachers. Over the years  I’ve received some feedback that a few teachers don’t “praise” – or “constantly praise” their child – thinking that this was a sign they didn’t like their child. What I now think is that we all need some dialogue around this area of student motivation, praise and feedback.

What I’m keen on doing is provoking some thought and discussion on the topic and I’ve provided a link to this post in our school newsletter. Comments appreciated.

Links to some articles:

Standford University News

ABC News article