"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Monday, May 2, 2011

Love of Learning - Dweck Style

My current library read is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck I got it after researching the difference between gifted learners and non-gifted learners.  There are two schools of thought on intelligence.  One - IQ doesn't move and you can never get smarter than you are (or better at anything than your natural ability.)  Two - you have to work hard at something.  If you don't get it right away, keep working.  Practice.  Don't give up.  I'm sure it is a little of both, but we all know that practice is necessary to be come an expert an anything.  I wrote about the 10,000 hour phenomena a while back.

What I was more interested in was finding out what turns a kid off of learning and success.  What can a parent or teacher do?  We often, unconsciously, use language that paralyzes our children.  We assume the praise is helpful, but instead it can build barriers.  Sometimes frustration appears because a child feels something is "too easy" but when given a challenge gives up.  Some people have a "can do" attitude while others have an "I could never do that" attitude.  Dweck studied this phenomenon for 15 years.  I was interested in how my interactions with my kids was affected by my reactions to their success.  So, I reserved the book. 

Dweck's studies found there are two prevalent mindsets: fixed and growth.  A fixed mindset says something like, "Oh, they think I'm smart in Math.  If the problem is too hard and I can't do that they won't think I'm smart in Math anymore..."  Whereas a growth mindset says, "Oh!  I didn't get this the first time. I must need to practice to understand it better."

Ultimately, her book agrees with Talent Education (that of Suzuki), TJEd (Love of Learning) and the 10,000 Hour Phenomona.  Here's a synopsis:
World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea–the power of our mindset. Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals–personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area. “If you manage any people or if you are a parent (which is a form of managing people), drop everything and read Mindset.” –Guy Kawasaki, author of _The Art of the Start _and the blog _How to Change the World_ "Highly recommended . . . an essential read for parents, teachers [and] coaches . . . as well as for those who would like to increase their own feelings of success and fulfillment.” _–Library Journal (_starred review) “A serious, practical book. Dweck’s overall assertion that rigid thinking benefits no one, least of all yourself, and that a change of mind is always possible, is welcome.” _–Publishers Weekly_ “A good book is one whose advice you believe. A great book is one whose advice you follow. This is a book that can change your life.” –Robert J. Sternberg, author of _Teaching for Successful Intelligence_ “A wonderfully elegant idea . . . It is a great book.” –Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., author of _Delivered from Distraction_
 So, if you are struggling with "Inspire, not Require," I highly recommend this book, especially the chapter written for Parents, Teachers and Coaches.  I attribute my turnaround in school in the 6th grade to Ms. Kunz, who challenged me to do better because she knew I was a hard worker, unlike the teachers up to that point who told me I was too smart to be doing so poorly.

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