This concepts from this book have come up again and again in my work at the alternative education centre for young people who have been excluded from their normal schools. Art class at the centre has been particularly interesting in terms of the concept of failure. Art is a pretty risky activity (I've also been meaning to read the book Art and Fear). There are not clear guidelines for success or failure and a lot of art comes from creativity and individuality from inside the artist. What this means is that there is vulnerability and no clear guideline for success. This can be anxiety-producing for the kids.
Also, I'm wanting to get involved with a project that helps girls with their self-esteem. Are there any links between perceived failure and self-esteem?
So here it goes, taking apart the excerpt from Mindset on NPR (here):
"What are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated trait?"This reminds me of what a friend of mine, Rebecca, did with the Twilight books. She noticed that a lot of teens were reading them and so picked them up and loved them. As a home-schooling mom, she took the opportunity to create a curriculum that used the Twilight books to teach about how we can make choices to behave in different ways than our natures dictate. In the books, she loved how Edward was a vampire but used self control to become something different and better. She also loved how Jacob was a shape-shifting wolf thing and made choices throughout the book that went against his nature. We are not determined!
"Robert Sternberg, the present-day guru of intelligence, writes that the major factor in whether people achieve expertise “is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement.”"How interesting! I hope to help kids become more curious individuals.
"Some of us are trained in this mindset from an early age. Even as a child, I was focused on being smart, but the fixed mindset was really stamped in by Mrs. Wilson, my sixth-grade teacher. Unlike Alfred Binet [developer of the IQ test], she believed that people’s IQ scores told the whole story of who they were. We were seated around the room in IQ order, and only the highest-IQ students could be trusted to carry the flag, clap the erasers, or take a note to the principal. Aside from the daily stomachaches she provoked with her judgmental stance, she was creating a mindset in which everyone in the class had one consuming goal—look smart, don’t look dumb. Who cared about or enjoyed learning when our whole being was at stake every time she gave us a test or called on us in class?"How awful!
"Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training."
"You can see how the belief that cherished qualities can be developed creates a passion for learning. Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives."I believe that the growth mindset comes from a place of being unconditionally loved. I would love to read the rest of the book and see if Dweck agrees with this or not. For me, learning about and experiencing relational intimacy and finding out about differentiation were all very helpful for feeling secure enough to take risks.
"In other words, risk and effort are two things that might reveal your inadequacies and show that you were not up to the task. In fact, it’s startling to see the degree to which people with the fixed mindset do not believe in effort."