Carol Dweck: 'Telling kids to try harder isn't enough to promote a growth mindset'

17th July 2014 at 19:30

Carol Dweck has become a staffroom name thanks to her work on “growth mindsets” – the belief that intelligence and ability is fluid and can be grown and developed. In this week’s TES, she talks about her work, how teachers can use it and her views on the state of education today.

Of her research, she says that it built on work that she had already been doing, but that “it’s really been in the past two decades or so that the mindset idea emerged”.

She credits the events around receiving a grant for taking her research beyond academia and into the classroom. “The president of a foundation approached us and offered us a grant to do this work in schools,” Professor Dweck explains. “We were just looking at mindsets academically, but he came to us and said, ‘get out of your ivory tower’ and gave us the money to develop it in the real world.”

She believes in the transformational effect that promoting growth mindsets can have on pupils, citing the example of a primary school in Seattle, US, that has shot up through the league tables. However, she warns that achieving such a transformation requires hard work and commitment – there’s no quick fix.

“The main mistake I have seen teachers make is thinking that just telling children to ‘try harder’ is promoting a growth mindset, but that by itself isn’t going to be enough. Just telling a kid over and over again to do something is what I call nagging.

“Another mistake is teaching about the brain and how it grows with learning, but not teaching kids specifically how to grow their brain.”

Read the full interview with Carol Dweck in the 18 July edition of TES on your tablet or phone by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up in all good newsagents.


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