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What is a Growth Mindset?

You have probably heard the term “growth mindset” by now. It’s become known as a buzzword in the education industry, including the e-learning sub-sector, however, it is not a concept that should be overlooked. A powerful approach to learning, every student, teacher, and parent should become familiar with the basic principles of the growth mindset and consider putting them into practice. After all, this philosophy is changing lives—and it could change yours.

Who Came Up with the Growth Mindset Concept?

Carol Dweck first introduced the world to the growth mindset concept in her well-received book, Mindset in 2007. Dweck is a Stanford University psychology professor who researches and teaches about personality and motivation. She developed a philosophy that explains how students see themselves and their abilities in the following two ways.

  • Fixed Mindset: Dweck says that with a fixed mindset, you believe your abilities (skills, talents, intelligence, etc.) are “fixed” traits. As a result, you might avoid pursuing or learning new things. You also might give up on improving skills and might feel ashamed when you struggle to grasp new concepts. With a fixed mindset, you believe qualities like intelligence or talent are fixed—you’re “born” with it.
  • Growth Mindset: Dweck says that with a growth mindset, you believe you can develop your skills and talents with continuous effort and perseverance. With this mindset, you truly believe you can do better by working hard and trying new approaches to learning. You enjoy challenges and don’t take criticism negatively. You are persistent and keep trying.

Dweck encourages all students to develop a growth mindset in order to improve academic achievement. The mindset you choose (it really is your choice!) becomes your motivator. How does Dweck know this to be true? Scientists have discovered the brain is like a muscle—it gets stronger the more you use it! Every time you give yourself the opportunity to learn something new, you strengthen that muscle. The key is to work through challenges until you solidify your skills. That might take a lot of effort, however, stay the course. The mindset you choose can affect your success in school and your career.

How Can You Develop a Growth Mindset?

  • Embrace a positive attitude with respect to challenges. This can be achieved with practice. Give yourself encouragement and extra time to achieve your goals.
  • Change your perspective on failure. Consider it an opportunity to learn and grow. Every successful person failed to move forward. Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
  • Try new things and trust you can learn new skills with hard work and determination.
  • Use feedback to improve your skills. Just like a failure, we need feedback to move forward.
  • Don’t envy someone else’s success. Learn from those individuals and share in their achievements.

This article was written by Ms. Lisa Cantkier.