Scientific American article by Carol Dweck, "mindsets" author

"The Secret to Raising Smart Kids," by Carol Dweck, an article in Scientific American, is a must-read for educators. This is a great overview of the researcher's investigations and philosophy.

At the beginning of the article: "Our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability—along with confidence in that ability—is a recipe for success. In fact, however, more than 30 years of scientific investigation suggests that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings."

From the article, you can learn about "mindsets," two views of intelligence.

Any reactions, or more links?

Tags: Dweck, intelligence, mindsets, pedagogy

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Great article, I shared it with my team. Thanks!

Hi Scott,

We're using the article for faculty discussion as well.

I'm trying to frame some questions that pertain to Dweck's overview as well as to use of technology.

From the article:
" overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings.

The result plays out in children like Jonathan, who coast through the early grades under the dangerous notion that no-effort academic achievement defines them as smart or gifted. Such children hold an implicit belief that intelligence is innate and fixed, making striving to learn seem far less important than being (or looking) smart. This belief also makes them see challenges, mistakes and even the need to exert effort as threats to their ego rather than as opportunities to improve. And it causes them to lose confidence and motivation when the work is no longer easy for them." (Dweck, 2007)


So, I'm curious about how use of technology, especially extensive use of technology, affects the "mindsets" from which the students are working. Are there aspects of technology use that increase the "active mindset" rather than the "innate, fixed, static" view of intelligence?

More discussion questions are needed...
Boy, do I have a recent connection!

I've a brilliant student in my honors language arts class. Recently he submitted a research paper. Based on the rubric, he earned a "B". When I passed back papers yesterday, he was shocked, almost in tears. It occurred to me that perhaps he had never received any other grade other than an "A". I told him not to worry, that he could revise his paper to improve his grade. He didn't seem to take much comfort in that. We'll see what happens next.
Hi Ms. Whatsit! Great to hear from you.

Yeah, I'm amazed at how fragile some of the students are who have gotten top grades throughout their schooling. Schoolwork is something to do to get done and have over. Getting a good "tag" on it (an "A") is the most they're after.

The more robust learners are in the saddle, choosing their paths. So a couple of paths prove difficult, take labor, lead to failure or blind ends--still they keep going, often delighted with "the ride." They don't seem fragile at all. What makes the difference--how do these different types of learners get "created"?
Very interesting article..having taught gifted elementary kids for almost 25 years motivation, ability and effort have been the topic of discussion with many parents, teachers and kids. I'm going to share the results of Dweck's work with my older students next week.

There is a related discussion going on over at
Skip, thank you so much for your kind words. They mean a lot. I think you're right about me being mostly a big, enthusiastic, eager-to-learn kid. And I'm lucky to be teaching in an unusual educational environmental; independent schools often allow the teachers a good deal of freedom. Active mindsets benefit from ability to experiment.

Nancy, with your experience you'd know a lot about Dweck's two mindsets. It's great that you're going to share her investigations with students! I've found that some kids really "get" the perspective, although they may be reluctant to let go of a strict "achievement orientation." Had some great success using Dweck's books in parent-teacher conferences; with parents' help I've been able to assist some student in transforming their learning modes. It's exciting to see such profound changes. A few students in my class readily admit they've made a turnaround and now enjoy the process of learning a whole lot more. Earlier in the year they were all about "getting the stuff done," and the work seemed shallow. Now they're extending the work, happily, on their own. Thanks for the comment. Please share how your students react to learning about Dweck, and how you present it. I think my presentation of her work only reached a fraction of the class; it may be developmental, or it may be that I need to try a different way of getting it across.
It reminds of the "old" work on internal vs. external locus of control. Gifted kids bring a myriad of issues to the table. On the whole most of them are OK, enjoy school, work to potential and frolic off to university healthy and whole--then there is the other 20% that drop out. I guess the GED is the ultimate course compacting! I wish a fraction of the emphasis put on our slower learners and at risk kids would be put on the kids who have so much potential and sit day after day learning nothing new. When asked who learns the least new material in a given day you'd think it was our LD kids, our ELL kids, or other at risk populations but in fact it's the kids at the very top who learn the least. One of these day the US will wake up and realize that half or more of the engineering students and medical researchers at our universities are from other countries.

My son, a young attorney doing contract work for a large firm, was telling me the other day that legal document review is now being outsourced to India---where is this rant going? Heck I don't know---just started rambling. I know the world is flat and in a time when kids would benefit by learning 21st century skill they are mired in 2 hours of reading a day---preparing to pass state tests. Kids receiving special ed services and needing to work with teachers special trained to teach them are being moved back into the regular classroom in droves. The classroom teacher has less and less control over what is being taught and how it is taught. Science and SociaI Studies (and even technology) are given less and less time during the day. I retire in a year or two--glad there are people like to to move foward. Good Luck! N,
read this article and loved it, it goes hand in hand with the extensive use of technology because students are enabled to work at their own pace which challenges the mindset of rejecting learning activities that students find challenging and confronts the "static" mindset
Hello gnewton! Welcome to the network.
I think you're right--there's something about self-pacing, something about the work itself that brings forth the active mindset. I don't often find kids who are using technology saying "I'm not good at this" and giving up. They're not after a label or grade or certificate--they are learning for learning's sake. They keep going until they "get it," it's intrinsic motivation all the way.
This is a quote from another article:
Dweck is talking about how early on her studies she and Carol Diener wanted to "...have children “think out loud” as they faced problem-solving tasks, some too difficult for them. The big surprise: some of the children who put forth lots of effort didn’t make attributions at all. These children didn’t think they were failing. Diener puts it this way: 'Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, I’m a problem solver, and I’ll try something else.’” During one unforgettable moment, one boy—something of a poster child for the mastery-oriented type—faced his first stumper by pulling up his chair, rubbing his hands together, smacking his lips and announcing, 'I love a challenge.'" (Krakovsky, "The Effort Effect," Stanford Magazine)
I'm wondering if we'll bring out more and more of the "active mindset" by "putting kids in the driver's seat" through use of Web 2.0 applications. It can lead to the exact opposite of "learned helplessness." Combine rich Web 2.0 tools with instruction about how people who try, who put forth strong effort, actually "grow their brains..."
"In the growth mind-set classes, students read and discussed an article entitled 'You Can Grow Your Brain.' They were taught that the brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with use and that learning prompts neurons in the brain to grow new connections. From such instruction, many students began to see themselves as agents of their own brain development." (Dweck, Scientific American)
Wonder if Dweck, herself, has studied the combination of brain-growth classes and active use of technology? Seems like a dynamic package to me--



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