What do you have a ‘fixed mindset’ about?

“I’m not a math person.” “I can’t dance.” “I’m dumb and she’s smart.” “I’m just naturally an artist.”

All of the above are statements you might have heard from your students, your children or your peers. You might even have said one of them about yourself. They’re also all statements that are symptomatic of a “fixed mindset.” Say what??

We’ve blogged on several occasions about research into academic mindsets, and the effect that having a “growth mindset” vs. a “fixed mindset” can have on anyone’s ability to learn.

In the education context, think about “mindset” as your belief in your ability to learn and increase your intelligence on any given topic.  Cognitive research has shown that our brains are quite malleable and our intelligence is not fixed. Meaning: If you’re not good at something now, that doesn’t mean you can’t work hard and get better at it. To believe and understand this is to have a “growth mindset.” Yet so many students (and so many adults) have a “fixed mindset” about certain skills, believing that they’re simply “not a math person” or “a dance person.”

Dr. Carol Dweck, a researcher who for years has studied the effect this can have on students, would argue: “You’re not a math person… YET.”

More and more educators are thinking about how to incorporate this research into classroom practice – helping students learn about their brains, re-thinking how they praise students (praise effort, not results), and working to build school cultures around the growth mindset ideal.

Almost none of us are completely immune to “fixed” thinking. For me, it’s dancing. I took a few classes before I got married to avoid embarrassing myself on the big day, and pretty quickly just gave up.

So I ask YOU: What do you have fixed mindset about?

Comments

I am a technology immigrant. Although I work at it, I often feel inadequate.

I have a mindset that all kids can learn no matter what there circumstances. My growth mindset is I can learn new technology no matter how old I am vs fixed mindset I didn't like technology when it first came out. I thought blogs were Crazy and a waste of time when I took college classes. At the end of the semester I found out Blogs with peers were very helpful.

I started out with a fixed mindset. As I have gotten older and realized how little I really know, I have had to shift to a growth mindset.

I believe we've all had these experiences throughout our lives. We need to give our students more encouragement to believe in themselves in a positive way and do what it takes to achieve.

I too have that little voice saying, "Oh no! More technology!" I then reach for the panic button but catch myself. Sometimes I have to laugh at myself because when I figure out things on my own, or learn new things about programs or other "geek stuff" I get very excited! My three grown adults and husband (who can relate) cannot help but laugh either. ; D