Saul Mishkin

What is Growth Mindset?

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein

First coined more than 30 years ago, growth mindset is a belief students hold that they can get smarter, and an understanding that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and this leads to higher achievement.

The concept of a growth mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck. Dr. Dweck studied the behavior of thousands of children and then found a way to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. 

Growth mindset defines one way of viewing challenges and setbacks. People who have a growth mindset believe that even if they struggle with certain skills, their abilities aren’t set in stone. Those who have a growth mindset believe that with work, their skills can improve over time. 

As Dr. Dweck said, “The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

On the other hand, people with the opposite belief, that abilities are set in stone, have a fixed mindset. With this mindset, people believe that no matter how hard they try or how much effort they exert, their skills won’t improve.

While the research was originally conducted with children, the beliefs of growth and fixed mindset can also apply to adults. Additionally, a growth mindset can be developed. Here are a few tips for developing a growth mindset:

•Find others with a growth mindset. Surrounding yourself with others who have a growth mindset can be an encouragement to keep persevering and learning. This community can help you stretch and grow and remind you that your brain is capable of doing more.

•Set small stretch goals. Rather than set a big, scary goal that makes you want to give up immediately, set a goal that helps you stretch just a bit. Then set another goal that’s just a bit more stretch. Then do it again. Repeating this process repeatedly means you’ll eventually reach  the big, scary goal. 

•Research brain plasticity. Prepare to be amazed with the capabilities of your brain! Through experiences, our brains are able to change and adapt, including changing its physical structure. Once you realize how malleable your brain truly is, you can adopt a belief that your skills can grow over time.

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