Growth mindset

What if everything you knew about mindsets and resilience was wrong?

2018-09-24T17:04:50+01:00September 24th, 2018|Featured|

Here are the slides I use for my talk at researchED Malmö: What if everything you know about mindsets and resilience is wrong? from David Didau The following is the English text of an article I wrote for Pedagogiska magasinet on which the presentation was, in part, based. What leads to success? Obviously, as teachers, we should be interested in children’s academic test scores, but what else is important? Are there certain skills, qualities of dispositions that the successful possess and everyone else lacks? If there is, can we identify these magic ingredients and teach them to our students? An exciting range [...]

The nail in Growth Mindset’s coffin?

2019-01-25T13:50:03+00:00March 6th, 2018|psychology|

As I'm sure everybody already knows, mind sets are beliefs about the nature of characteristics like intelligence. The theory is that students with growth mindsets believe their ability can be changed with effort and therefore do better academically than their peers who have fixed mindsets. Given the appeal of this theory, it's small wonder that schools around the world have rushed to intervene with their students in order to mould their mindsets. In January last year I wrote one of my most popular blog posts to date, the controversially titled, Is Growth Mindset Bollocks? In it I detailed the reasons for doubting the efficacy of what [...]

Is growth mindset bollocks?

2017-01-28T13:42:55+00:00January 25th, 2017|psychology|

Like everyone else, when I first came across Carol Dweck's theory of growth mindsets I was pretty psyched. There was something so satisfyingly truthy about the way the labels 'fixed' and 'growth' mindset could explain why children failed or succeeded at school. I wanted to believe that something as simple as telling children their brains are 'like a muscle' and showing them a cartoon about synapses forming could make them cleverer. And if praising effort instead of praising intelligence really did make all this happen, then why the hell wouldn't we? And best of all, the whole edifice was established on rock-solid, credible research and [...]

The limits of growth mindset

2016-05-30T10:54:25+01:00May 30th, 2016|psychology|

What's the difference between success and failure? Effort, of course! As everyone now knows, all you need to ensure you're a success is a shed-load of hard work and the belief that you can do anything you set your mind to! Yay! I want to be an astronaut! This is mindsets-lite: the undifferentiated and naive belief that the right kind of thinking leads to wonderful things. Like most well-intentioned educational fads, there's a kernel of truth in these sorts of claims. Hard work does make a difference; beliefs do matter. As always, though, reality is a little more complicated than that. To shed [...]

Is growth mindset pseudoscience?

2017-01-06T19:41:55+00:00October 24th, 2015|research|

Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. Carl Sagan What's the difference between science and pseudoscience? The basis of all reputable science is prediction and falsification: a claim has to be made which we can then attempt to disprove. If we can't disprove it, the claim holds and we accept the theory as science. If the claim doesn't hold, we've learned something, we move one, we make progress. That's science. Pseudoscience doesn't work like that. It makes claims, sure, but they're so [...]

Why the ‘false growth mindset’ explains so much

2020-01-20T18:56:42+00:00June 20th, 2015|psychology|

Modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise. - Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida In the same way that I learned nothing from listening to the polished performance of Ken Robinson at yesterday's Education Festival at Wellington College, I found myself surprised at just how challenging Carol Dweck's slightly awkward delivery and clunky slides turned out to be. And to think I nearly didn't bother staying. After reading Self Theories and Mindset I thought I knew as much about Dweck's theories as anyone could ever reasonably want to know, but it turned out I was dead wrong. (A recurrent theme in my life!) [...]

20 psychological principles for teachers #10 Mastery

2015-06-07T18:48:33+01:00June 7th, 2015|psychology|

This is the second of four posts exploring what motivates students and the tenth in my series examining the Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education’s report on the Top 20 Principles From Psychology for Teaching and Learning . This time I turn my attention to Principle 10: “Students persist in the face of challenging tasks and process information more deeply when they adopt mastery goals rather than performance goals.” Mastery gets bandied around a lot at the moment. Everyone who's anyone is shoehorning 'mastery' into their post-Levels replacements and it seems to mean something different every time it's used. In layman's terms, mastery just [...]

20 psychological principles for teachers #1 Mindsets

2015-06-01T09:39:30+01:00May 25th, 2015|psychology|

We are what we believe we are. Benjamin Cardozo A few weeks ago I posted a brief summary of The Coalition for Psychology for Schools and Education's report, Top 20 Principles From Psychology For Pre-k–12 Teaching And Learning. Since then I've been reading through the research they cite to see how far I agree with their conclusions. First up for investigation is Principle 1 - Students’ beliefs or perceptions about intelligence and ability affect their cognitive functioning and learning. Much of what the report says will be familiar to anyone who's come across Carol Dweck's Mindset. "Students who believe intelligence is malleable and [...]

A defence of the fixed mindset

2015-01-24T15:13:16+00:00January 23rd, 2015|learning|

The growth mindset has been so universally heralded as 'a good thing' that it's in danger of becoming one of those memes we think with rather than about. A number of commentators have been critical of the way mindset theory has been uncritical adopted and unthinkingly applied, but what if growth isn't always good? What if sometime we might be better off to be 'fixed' in our attitudes and beliefs? This is something that has been simmering away on my back burner for months, but then I encountered the following passage in the philosopher, Daniel Dennett's magnificent (and very witty) treatise on the human [...]

Do we really have a growth mindset?

2015-01-06T00:34:51+00:00January 5th, 2015|leadership|

The ladder of life is full of splinters, but they always prick the hardest when we’re sliding down. Samuel Clemens I spoke at a Growth Mindset conference with Olympian and sports journalist Matthew Syed today. Needless to say, he got star billing. I took the view that whilst we may all profess to value a growth mindset in pupils we have a very fixed mindset to teaching and education. Syed made the point that there are important differences between how the aviation industry and surgeons treat failure. When an aeroplane crashes, airlines go to great lengths retrieve the black box flight recorder in order to [...]

Grit and growth: who's to blame for low achievement?

2014-07-10T16:56:48+01:00July 10th, 2014|Featured|

I’ve recently read a couple of interesting articles which question the efficacy of the research of Carol Dweck (Mindset) and Angela Duckworth (Grit). The complaint is that if we attribute an individual’s failure to a fault or lack in their character then we are apportioning blame; the reason we are unsuccessful is down to our own weak will and poor attitude. The counter argument is that society should be held to account for the failure of those at its margins; if we fail it is down to our lack of opportunity and the prejudices we encounter. No one would argue that [...]

Focusing on performance is the enemy of the growth mindset

2014-03-02T22:06:46+00:00March 2nd, 2014|learning|

Over the past year or so I've been following a line of thinking which has gone something like this: Learning and performance are not the same thing. Pupils' performance in lessons does not correspond with learning. Learning is invisible and takes place over time. We may be able to infer something about what has been learned by examining performance, but more often than not, we won't. Learning may follow from performance, but it may not. Performance may indicate learning, but, again, it may not. Responding to cues when something is fresh in our minds is easy. Learning is only learning if skills [...]

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