The power of believing that you can improve – Carol Dweck


Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University speaks at a TEDtalk about her research into the “growth mindset” — the idea that we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and to solve problems.

The Power of Yet

Carol Dweck begins the discussion with delving into the idea of the “power of yet concept”, which was founded by a school in Chicago who gave out course grades that were rated as either “passing” or “not yet”. Whereas the not yet grade was aimed to provide the student with encouragement that they can and eventually will pass the course, but they simply are not there just yet. She goes on to discuss the ideology of what she calls a “growth mindset” versus a “fixed mindset”. She goes on to share some of the results of a study that she conducted which analyzed a group of 10 year old students and she gave them a series of questions that were above their standard level. She noted that the students were fairly divided with regards to how they reacted to the difficult questions and that the students that were noted to be in the state of a fixed mind-set all shared similar reactions following the fact that they failed the test. The fixed mindset students all reflected one of the following ideals: that they would simply Cheat vs. Study next time, they sought out a student that did better than them to make them feel better about their own poor results, or they sought to simply run from difficulties.

According several studies, scientists actually went on to measure the electrical activity of the brain as students were confronted with the error. Students with the fixed mind-set were shown to have very little brain activity occurring as they were simply choosing to not confront the hardship they were coping with, whereas students with the growth mindset had a significant amount of electrical activity happening in their brain as they were opting to in turn strive to find results by way of deeply engaging and in turn correcting the issue at hand.

The Bridge to Yet, is the concept that follows upon the premise that we are allowing our children to live in the now instead of the yet. We are simply encouraging them to get the best grade or a participation award without actually encouraging them to follow through all of the steps of the why to find the best resolution. The first way that she states parents can assist their children is through praise wisely and not praising intelligence or talent but to actually praise the efforts and process that have led them to finding success. By way of encouraging children to actually strive to learn something new through their struggles they can in turn build upon the creation of increased levels of neurons in the brain which can actually lead them to becoming increasingly more intelligent.

Learning Environment with the Growth Mindset as its focus

Growth Mindset

Carol goes on to then discuss the importance of equality among students. When educators create growth mind-set instructions into their courses in a way that encourages equality these students will be able to grow within themselves. This is due to the fact that the meaning of effort and difficulty was formed. Prior to this, effort and difficulty tended to dumb down the students as opposed to encouraging them to learn in a matter that meets their own preference of learning and providing encouragement for the child to learn in their own way and at their own pace.

Watch Carol Dwecks TedTalk here

Want More?

Get a copy of Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Carol’s website Mindset
Test your mindset with this short quiz


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