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. According to Prof. Dweck, who has done immense research in this field, there are basically two types of mindsets- fixed mindset and growth mindset.
A 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!
Why is having a mindset important?
Our mindset helps us face challenges that come up in life. Quite clearly, having a growth mindset helps us be better prepared in times of adversity. For those of us who are not there yet, it does seem like it would have been awesome if someone helped us out much earlier! While we can consciously attempt to get better and get there, there's a lot we can do for our children right away. For this, let’s first understand how a mindset is formed.
According to Dweck, the way we praise has a huge bearing on what mindset a child grows up with. In a study of adolescents conducted by Prof. Dweck and her colleagues, they found a stark difference in the reactions of students who were praised for their ability (where their smartness was appreciated for successful completion of a task) versus those who were praised for their efforts (where their hard work was appreciated). Interestingly, the ability-praise pushed students into a fixed mindset. They did not want to pick up anything challenging that would allow them to learn and grow, for the fear of failing or exposing their lack of ability to deal with it. On the other hand, about 90% of the effort-praise students wanted to take up something challenging to learn something new.
As adults, we can ensure that children develop a growth mindset through our communication with them, for instance, by praising their efforts and not inherent traits or talents. We should focus on the process and not the result or outcome. When mistakes are seen as opportunities to improve oneself and not as a failure, children will not be afraid of taking up challenges. They should learn to relish them. Constructive criticism is however important. Merely appreciating the effort at something that was not successful isn’t enough for your child to succeed the next time. Analyzing what went wrong and providing feedback to reflect upon will help your child grow. Providing encouraging words to do better next time works wonders.
By doing this we can help children understand that their efforts, hard work and perseverance can lead to improvement, learning and growth. In fact, that hunger for learning and craving for hard work should become second nature for them. Often, the growth mindset translates to academic excellence as well.
At Cuemath, we believe in promoting a growth mindset among children in our personalized Live Online Math classes. Teachers offer the right cueing and encouragement to build self-confidence and motivation in children to work harder and achieve the set goals and targets.
-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.