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In a Perfect World... || Opinions on Growth Mindset

Learning to learn from your mistakes...

Well if you're anything like me, this is not the first time you've heard of the Growth Mindset. I've been hearing about Dr. Dweck's research off and on for the past 4 years or so, and have had lots of time to contemplate and attempt to integrate it into my own learning process. 

What I feel I've learned from this endeavor is really the difficulty in learning to learn from your mistakes. It's hard not to feel some sense of frustration when you do poorly on a quiz or receive a bad grade on a paper. Especially in college, where much can be tied to your GPA and grade, the fatalistic sense of failure from bad grades can be incredibly disheartening. 

I would know! I, like many others, attend OU with a scholarship that requires me to maintain a minimum GPA. Failing exams or getting bad grades in this context can be more than just a bad feeling. For those who rely on their scholarships to continue attending school, these experiences can be downright panic inducing!

It is for these reasons that I would agree with some of Dweck's critics who bring up the point that, while Dweck's research and theory is sound, it can incredibly difficult to implement in the current academic environment. The way in which we have structured education in the US just does not lend itself to encouraging this sort of mindset in children. 

Additionally, I'm sure that many people will not have heard of Growth Mindset until their college years. By this point, the automatic reactions and methods of learning that a person has established in their first 12 or so years in the education system may be so ingrained as to not be changeable without great effort. Effort that might simply have to be spent on other endeavors while in school. 

However, while I've struggled to implement Growth Mindset into my attitudes towards school, I have had much greater success in implementing it into my hobbies. When I am learning something new, just for fun, I find that it is much easier (really natural actually) to find joy and excitement in getting things wrong and learning from my mistakes. Whether its learning a new coding language or how sculpt a human face on a computer, the mistakes are much easier to shrug off and there is more fun in the learning process.

So, in summary, I do like Dr. Dweck's concept of the Growth Mindset and feel that there are ways that people can successfully implement it into their lives. However, I believe that, given the state and design of the current American education system, Growth Mindset might be hardest to implement in the one area that Dweck really seems to stress: school and formal learning.

Neuron Connections form MindSetWorks
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