Prof. Carol Dweck talks about two types of mindsets seen in children and adults alike. One is a growth mindset and the other is a fixed mindset. Before we understand what each of them are, let’s understand what we mean by a mindset. A mindset is a collection of our thoughts and beliefs. It helps us make sense of the world around us and understand ourselves too. Our mindset deeply influences how we think, behave and act in various situations.
Let’s look at this table below to understand some of the thoughts that people with a fixed and growth mindset have.
|GROWTH MINDSET||FIXED MINDSET|
|Let me try this.||I don’t want to do this!|
|I’ll try a few more times||I give up!|
|Let me put in some effort. It doesn’t matter even if I fail this time.||No point in putting in the effort, I just don’t have the capability.|
|I’m not great at this, but I can definitely become better at it if I try.||I’m really bad at this, and I can't do anything about it.|
|I don’t mind asking questions that may seem silly or foolish, as long as I learn something.||I won’t attempt this because I will end up exposing my flaws and weaknesses to others|
|There’s always scope for improvement. I’m willing to change based on feedback.||I’m perfect the way I am, I don't need to change or improve.|
Growth mindset is where we believe that we have the potential to grow, that our intelligence and abilities can be improved with the right strategies and over time. A willingness to confront challenges and embrace them, a passion and zeal for learning, and looking at failure as a foundation for growth are all characteristics associated with a growth mindset. In a fixed mindset people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. And that’s far from the truth!
In the world of fixed mindset, there is a constant need to validate oneself, to prove that one is smart or talented. In contrast, the world of growth mindset believes that one can grow and develop into a better version of oneself. In one world, failure means the end of everything- failing in an exam, losing a job, being rejected, losing a game- all mean that one is not smart enough. In the other world, failure is seen as a stepping stone to success, as an opportunity to learn and be better.
Jo Boaler, a Math educator and professor at Stanford University, in her book “The Elephant in the Classroom”, talks about these two mindsets and how they play a crucial role in the development of a child, and specifically in the learning of Mathematics. She talks of how the brain grows every time a mistake is made, and that teachers and parents should encourage children to make mistakes. A day where a child gets all their work correct is an opportunity lost to learn. Getting something right obviously makes a child feel good, but that is not the most productive learning environment she says. It is also important for the children to know that it is productive to struggle and make mistakes, and be comfortable about them.
The Math experts at Cuemath firmly believe in this and design tailor-made courses to ensure that each child reaches his true potential. Cuemath conducts Live Online Math classes. Teachers at Cuemath allow students in online Math classes to explore problems on their own, and provide the right cues at the right times to allow for some struggle, mistakes and to eventually discover the answers and reach their very own Aha! moment. Students feel more confident and comfortable in a 1:1 setting to make mistakes without the fear of being judged or laughed at, and once this attitude becomes second nature to them, it will percolate in school too, developing an inherent growth mindset in them.
-By Kshama Chakravarthy
Kshama heads the teacher curriculum team at Cuemath. She has a masters degree in Mathematics and Education- two of her major passions. She has been in the field of Math education for over 11 years now and has donned many hats, from designing and developing curriculum to teaching students to training teachers. She enjoys being in the midst of nature in her free time and tries to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle.