Dweck on Fixed vs. Growth mindset

Continuing a series of posts on the development of the Collaborative for Exploration of Scientific and Political Change within the framework of Ben Schwendener’s Seminar on Creativity.


14 June ’11
Notes on Carol Dweck, Mindset (2006).
The basic contrast

  • fixed mindset = “urgency to prove yourself over and over” (p.6)
    • “cloak of specialness was really a suit of armor they built to feel safe, strong, and worthy” (p. 226)
    • a criticism you didn’t want to hear; you weren’t capable of what was needed; turned a deaf ear, hoping the issue would go away (p. 227)
  • growth mindset = “everyone can change and grow through application and experience” (p.7)
    • “What are the opportunities for learning and growth today? For myself? For the people around me?” (p. 238) -> Plan -> “When, where and how will I embark on my plan?”
    • “What do I have to do to maintain and continue the growth?” (p.239)
    • “Raise should deal, not with the child’s personality attributes, but with his efforts and achievements.” Haim Ginott quoted on p. 172

“It’s for you to decide whether change is right for you now.” (p. 239) Yet the whole book is about the growth mindset is the way to go—so much so that the author can speak as if it’s a matter of choice and not address the ways it’s structured in over time.

The basic or original human disposition or orientation is the growth mindset, which corresponds to Makiguchi’s happiness in learning (insofar as I understand that).

When I write comments on students’ work as part of “dialogue around written work,” I assume a growth mindset. Even when I scaffold that growth, I do not have much success with students who have a fixed mindset (e.g., fast forwarding past the scaffolded steps to the final product as it to prove themselves, or protecting themselves by avoiding the hard work of, say, reading more).

About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

One Response to Dweck on Fixed vs. Growth mindset

  1. secret agent girl says:

    So what ways have you come up with to identify students with fixed minsets, and how can you empower (or at least plant seeds) to encourage a shift towards a more growth mindset?

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