growth vs. fixed mindsets

Our faculty summer reading assignment is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

It’s the first of my summer list that I’ve read. I started here because it was a pretty easy read, and it was a good way to get rid of all the slush in my brain from grading final exams and reading for classwork.

Honestly, I think it’s a book that could be read in pieces as needed. It was extremely repetitive and the anecdotes were more tiring that explanatory.

There were two positives that I drew from the book, though.

The first was that I really understood what my parents did in raising me to be a learner. I don’t know if they consciously set out to do it or if they just did what seemed natural to them, but the entire section on how to raise growth-minded children could have been a picture of my parents. I did fairly well in school, but every time my parents were told “how smart” their daughter was, they had the same response. “Thank you, but she also works incredibly hard.” Or “thank you, but she also really enjoys challenges.” Or my favorite, “thank you, but she also has a lot of fun with [insert any subject but science].” And those things have always stuck with me. I’m definitely not afraid to try because to them and, by transfer, to me the successes became the hard work, the challenge and the fun rather than the grade.

The second part that I loved was the section about being a growth-minded teacher:

How can growth-minded teachers be so selfless, devoting untold hours to the worst students? Are they just saints? Is it reasonable to expect that everyone can become a saint? The answer is that they’re not entirely selfless. They love to learn. And teaching is a wonderful way to learn. About people and how they tick. About what you teach. About yourself. About life.

Exactly. I’ve always found teaching to be somewhat of a selfish endeavor. Most times I feel I learn more than I ever teach, and I love it. I have basically made a career of experimentation and risks and endless learning. Who could really ask for more?

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