How important is our mindset? Can it determine our success?
Well, it depends on what kind of mindset you have. According to American psychologist Carol S. Dweck, there are two kinds of mindset, fixed or growth. And it’s highly recommended to have a growth one! Dweck’s two-mindsets concept stormed the American educational system 30 years ago. The growth mindset was instilled in pupils all over the country with primarily debatable results.
Our team has analyzed Dweck’s concept with a critical gaze. Read the article and figure out what kind of mindset you have – fixed or growth?
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📍 Fixed Mindset VS. Growth Mindset – Definitions
Don’t worry if all of this mindset talk is white noise to you! We’ll keep it simple. Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Carol Susan Dweck, suggests that there are two general ways people perceive their intelligence:
- Fixed mindset
- Growth mindset
Now, what are they exactly?
What Is Fixed Mindset?
One of the features of a fixed mindset is a reluctance to learn something new. Struggling with math makes you think, “I’m not into numbers”; you might drop vocal courses due to “not having talent.” Or your new dog, Marble, goes back to the shelter because you “aren’t really a dog person.
- A fixed mindset describes a person who believes talents, personality traits, and skills to be constant. People with such a way of thinking assume their intelligence is static and cannot grow. Moreover, they don’t want it to grow.
What Is Growth Mindset?
- A growth mindset assumes that you can develop new skills and acquire new talents. In fact, it’s a pleasure to learn because the process is the crucial part. If you consider “I don’t know it” not as an obstacle but as a challenge – your mind is set to grow.
A growth mindset is turning “I’m not into numbers” into “I’m not into numbers yet.” Think about not being skilled as a temporary thing. And there you have it – a growth mindset. The vocal classes are nailed, the math test is conquered, and poor Marble is happy now.
🎁 Benefits of a Growth Mindset for Students
When Dweck explained how advantageous it is to have a growth mindset, the education system changed its approach to teaching children. Rather than praising a child’s level of intelligence, effort and a passion for challenges were encouraged.
To understand why the growth mindset became such a desirable thing, let’s look at its benefits.
1️⃣ Aspiration to Learn
A growth mindset forms love of study. For students with growth mindsets, new information calls for even more knowledge. As a result, receiving information in or outside a class becomes a healthy addiction. And being a knowledge addict can be highly beneficial, not only for students but any person. When you love to learn things, you perceive school or university programs as a pleasure. You stop procrastinating, grades become better, and overall performance improves.
2️⃣ Increased Motivation
It’s widely acknowledged that motivation is a crucial part of any learning process. Without it, education is simply impossible (any work is, actually.) Motivation is a critical element of a growth mindset. It teaches people to generate power from various sources, including missteps or challenges. In turn, increased motivation results in setting higher standards for yourself. And once you start working hard for your big ambitions, most probably you come to more significant success.
3️⃣ Ability to Overcome Challenges
Many people tend to avoid hardships and treat them as something undesirable. But setting your mind towards growth means you’re not afraid of any endeavor. They suddenly turn into something pleasant, something to look forward to. Challenges are seen as opportunities to grow and become a stronger person.
4️⃣ Better Performance
This one is simple. You work, you become motivated, and, as a result, your efficiency increases. When exercising a growth mindset, people tend to outperform themselves in many aspects of their life. This includes study, work, relationships, and many other fields.
5️⃣ Constant Development
Forming a growth mindset in school makes it necessary to always be setting a new bar for yourself. The school will eventually end, but the mindset doesn’t have to. Self-development becomes a life philosophy. Your ambitions will grow alongside you, and to quench them, you will need new interests and hobbies. Professional growth will also become a must, and you will live a life in constant search of new skills and knowledge.
⛔ Counterarguments & Limitations
Nothing is perfect, and neither is Dweck’s concept. There’s always room for improvement, and many researchers and psychologists have added to this framework. Their studies have generated a good amount of criticism and food for thought.
The numbers, unfortunately, don’t show Dweck’s idea to be as effective as she asserts. According to some research, the cognitive abilities of “kids with growth mindsets” don’t differ from those with fixed mindsets. This appears to be the same when facing challenges. Students’ fear of hardship didn’t seem to be affected dramatically by their mindset. The authors of this study tried to change the mindsets of pupils and teachers directly. They found no statistically significant evidence of better achievements amongst those who undertook the experience than the control group.
These discrepancies don’t necessarily prove the concept wrong, just that it’s far from perfect.
Is Growth Mindset for Everyone?
The idea of a growth mindset sounds very promising and inspiring. For some people, a life of constant self-development can feel like an unachievable ideal. And that’s where another flaw comes to light. It may be too demanding for some people. Some scientists reflect on the unsuccessful introduction of a growth mindset among the lowest-performing students. While this group was the main target to show changes, the concept seems not to work universally. As for high-performing students, the results were conflicting and depended on socioeconomic status.
The idea of a growth mindset looks excellent on paper. In reality, it is complicated to predict the effects of such interference. There are too many nuances to take into account. Things that can work for some people may have no impact or even harm others.
The Actual Flexibility of Mindsets
The flexibility of the concept is another subject for speculation. We are given only two possible scenarios, but what if we look beyond this strict dichotomy?
Some people struggle with facing challenges but see mistakes as helpful experiences. A person who can’t tolerate criticism can be genuinely happy for someone else’s success. And there are hundreds of possible trait combinations. A person’s mindset is a very complex and mysterious thing. That’s why Dweck’s concept may benefit from more mindset archetypes and widening the concepts themselves.
The concept of growth and fixed mindset assumes that the way of thinking about talents, skills, and intelligence is vital. Those who think they are static limit themselves drastically and are believed to have a fixed mindset. Whereas those who aspire to receive knowledge, are not afraid of challenges, and enjoy the process of learning have a growth type of mindset. The idea is simple enough but, unfortunately, lacks context. This is backed by research that suggests that Dweck’s idea is not universally applicable. We are yet to know when, where, and how to use this concept to its fullest, and that’s what makes it so fascinating!