Brainology #4

“Brainology” by Carol S. Dweck

Read and listen to the next part of the text:

How Do Students Learn These Mindsets?
In the 1990s, parents and schools decided that the most important thing for kids to have was self-esteem. If children felt good about themselves, people believed, they would be set for life. In some quarters, self-esteem in math seemed to become more important than knowing math, and self-esteem in English seemed to become more important than reading and writing. But the biggest mistake was the belief that you could simply hand children self-esteem by telling them how smart and talented they are. Even though this is such an intuitively appealing idea, and even though it was exceedingly well-intentioned, I believe it has had disastrous effects.

In the 1990s, we took a poll among parents and found that almost 85 percent endorsed the notion that it was necessary to praise their children’s abilities to give them confidence and help them achieve. Their children are now in the workforce and we are told that young workers cannot last through the day without being propped up by praise, rewards, and recognition. Coaches are asking me where all the coachable athletes have gone. Parents ask me why their children won’t work hard in school.

Could all of this come from well-meant praise? Well, we were suspicious of the praise movement at the time. We had already seen in our research that it was the most vulnerable children who were already obsessed with their intelligence and chronically worried about how smart they were. What if praising intelligence made all children concerned about their intelligence? This kind of praise might tell them that having high intelligence and talent is the most important thing and is what makes you valuable. It might tell them that intelligence is just something you have and not something you develop. It might deny the role of effort and dedication in achievement. In short, it might promote a fixed mindset with all of its vulnerabilities.

Return to the class Moodle site to take  Brainology Quiz #4 about this part of the text.

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