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Perceptions of the Growth Mindset

In high school, which for me was 31 years ago, we had signs in every room that said "Every student can learn". I didn't think much of it at the time because I was a student that made excellent grades with little effort. As I look back now, I have a far greater appreciation for those signs and what they probably meant to students that struggled with content or just being told they weren't smart enough. My teachers told me I was smart and I believed them. Those same teachers told other students they were not and they believed them also. I fully believe that was the "yet" that we are speaking about now.

I absolutely believe that what we impress upon our students makes a difference, either to try or no matter how hard you try it won't matter. We must choose our words and efforts wisely. I teach in higher education and I have had many students tell me that if I hadn't told them they could, they wouldn't have been able to do it. It applies to all age groups. I also have had to try to rewire many brains that believed that the grade was the important piece and not the knowledge. No one will ask what you made in the class, they will ask you if you are capable of doing the work.

As for myself, I have enthusiastically adopted Dweck's growth mindset and the "grit" mentality that Angela Duckworth speaks about. I believe with effort, I can get anywhere. The question is not will I learn but will I be a top-tier student. I do believe that some of the shortfalls can be made up with effort but not all of them. I struggle with giving valuable feedback myself but wholeheartedly accept any criticism that will help me grow.

I would much rather err on the side of too much encouragement then stifling a student's learning based on opinion. All theories have some flaws but I believe these are some of the better ones.

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