Nick Dennis

Why searching for ‘what works’ is a wild goose chase

It can be tempting for educators to uncritically accept the ‘objective’ answers offered by psychological research. But quick fixes are doomed to failure in the complex context of real-life schools, writes Nick Dennis

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I can’t recall exactly when I first came across Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset” research, but its simplicity, and its promise, piqued my interest immediately. The theory suggests that people perform appreciably better when solving problems if they believe that intelligence is not a fixed quality.

Suspending my disbelief that simply showing someone that intelligence wasn’t fixed could lead to improved outcomes, I cast around for validation. Respected headteachers, well-known bloggers and even Tes authors had written pieces about this exciting new idea.

Although not entirely sure how it would ...

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