Thursday, July 19, 2007

Education Heads-Up!

Papa Rooster sent me a link to this intriguing article on a new business book called Mind-set: The New Psychology of Success, by a Stanford professor named Carol Dweck. Though the article discusses success in business, there's a powerful implication here for success in education as well. Here's the meat I pulled from the full article, and I've bolded the best bit of all:

Dweck has found that individuals succeed or fail based on how they think about intelligence. She says people have one of two mind-sets on the matter.

People with a fixed mind-set believe that intelligence is static. Your behavior provides a sample of your true underlying intelligence...

The second group, Dweck says, are those with a growth mind-set. These people believe intelligence can be developed, like muscles. ...You perceive hard work as the path to mastery, not as a sign of insufficient genius.

...Now the puzzle deepens: Dweck has begun to explore whether we can intervene and change people's mind-sets, and if so, will that make them more successful? Earlier this year, Dweck and two colleagues, Kali Trzesniewsi of Stanford and Lisa S. Blackwell of Columbia, ran an experiment on junior high schoolers. If they trained the students to have a growth mind-set, would the kids' math grades improve? In less than two hours over eight weeks, they taught the students concepts such as: Your brain is like a muscle that can be developed with exercise; just as a baby gets smarter as it learns, so can you; everything is hard before it gets easy--never give up because you don't master something immediately.

The results were astonishing. The brain-is-a-muscle students significantly outperformed their peers in math, many showing dramatic turnarounds, such as the student who went from a failing grade to an 84 on her next exam. Dweck's work shows that a pure idea intervention can have a substantial effect. "The brain is a muscle" is an idea that stuck.

As a homeschooling teacher, I can't wait to try out this "idea intervention" on my students this fall! Though I try to be encouraging ("Don't give up, you'll get it if you work hard"), I'm eager to use some explicit images and word-pictures to inspire this process/growth mindset. "The brain is a muscle" image is great; maybe the idea of fertilizing the soil of your brain with great ideas, with daily work in a hard subject, so that bigger and better things will grow there? Hard , boring skills drills are what make the great athletes great (the article mentions Tiger Woods as an example). I'm sure I'll think of others.

Most inspiring.


G's Cottage said...

I agree with most of this as I figured it out that I had been "conditioned" to think I was a C- person in all areas. But once God got my attention that not all advisors are wise and that I had succeeded in some areas then I started to search for how far I could go. It has been amazing.

However, the gift of talent should not be discounted either; Tiger Woods a case in point. Yes he had rigorous drilling, but he has a phenomenal gift of physical prowess to use those drill better than the average body.

Jennifer said...

In the psyc class I've taken over the last couple of years we've learned about how this applies to teens especially. Their bodies feel complete, so their brains 'feel' complete too....and for teens, not only can they continue using their brain muscle like all of us can, but their brain is still growing and developing, up until their early 20's. It used to be thought that brains were basically done myelinating at age 4 - 6, but recent science has shown that the prefrontal cortex (where decision making, planning, and executive function happens) is still myelinating into the 20's. I think a lot of self-hatred over bad decisions can be avoided if teens understood this and had some pateince with themselves.

tonia said...

Fabulous! I'll use this with my kids for sure.