Carol Dweck: the three biggest misconceptions about growth mindset

Founder of growth mindset plans to use $4 million from global education prize to pursue 'real-world implementation' of theory

Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Growth Mindset Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck has set out the three biggest misconceptions people have about her theory of “growth mindset”.

Speaking to Tes’s sister magazine, Times Higher Education, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton professor of psychology at Stanford University said passing on a growth mindset required more than just “putting up a poster”.

Professor Dweck’s research suggests that some students with a fixed mindset believe their intellectual abilities are simply fixed, whereas those in a growth mindset believe that they can grow their abilities, for example, through hard work, good strategies and mentoring.

However, the theory has received some criticism in recent months, with some questioning its ability to achieve concrete learning improvements for students.

Asked by THE what were the biggest misconceptions about growth mindset, Professor Dweck said there were “many”, but specifically picked out three:

  • “That mindset is a simple concept. It’s not – it’s embedded in a whole theory about the psychology of challenge-seeking and persistence.
  • “That it’s easy to implement. It isn’t. It’s really hard to pass a growth mindset on to others and create a growth mindset culture. It’s not about educators giving a mindset lecture or putting up a poster – it’s about embodying it in all their practices.
  • “That a growth mindset denies the importance of talent. It doesn’t. A growth mindset is simply the belief that talents and abilities can be developed.”


In September, Professor Dweck won the inaugural Yidan Prize for Education Research, worth $4 million (£3 million).

She said she planned to use the money to pursue “real-world implementation” of growth mindset.

“We need to create workshops and interventions that are effective for a greater range of students and we need to create teacher training curricula so educators can create growth mindset cultures in schools,” she said.

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