For someone whose life’s work has been called into question at numerous points in the past 12 months, Carol Dweck is remarkably upbeat. The Lewis and Virginia Eaton professor of psychology at Stanford University is the creator of growth mindset theory, which has come under intense scrutiny with highly publicised failed replications of the original research. Dweck does not shun conversation of this, she embraces it.
“We don’t think it works every time, we want to know where it does not work so we can find out why,” she explains. “We are not putting out something we are saying is the gospel, we are saying this is our current understanding, we are putting it out there and we are getting feedback, and if someone finds something different, we are saying great, let’s learn from it.”
In conversation with Tes commissioning editor Jon Severs on the Tes Podagogy podcast, Dweck talks about why replications of her work might fail, her disappointment in what she sees as “adversarial” discussions that “misunderstand science” and her commitment to “learn where we are wrong. That way we can make it better”.
Away from responding to her critics, she also discusses her efforts to build a pedagogy that will instil growth mindset, her concern about children becoming “test takers, not challenger seekers” and her fears that teachers who have misunderstood her work are now nagging children, “and nagging has never worked”.
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