More Musings on Mindsets

‹-- PreviousNext --›

After my introductory post on Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets, I promised to come back and tease out the connections with themes previously explored in this blog. For there are many. You will have noticed that I am quite rabidly growth-oriented in my stance as an educator, so there are lots connections to be made. The challenge is going to be organising them…

At the big-picture level, there are a cluster of themes I have explored over the years. Long-term readers will have seen my critique of the discourse of talent become increasingly hard-line each time I come back to it, and Dweck’s analysis will only encourage me in this dimension. Indeed, now I go back and look at my thoughts on the dangers of being young and talented, it looks awfully like her accounts of fixed-mindset difficulties.

The growth mindset, by contrast resonates strongly with my past musings on expanding your boundaries and our relationship with challenge. And one of Dweck’s key findings, for me, is the insight that your beliefs about capacity and skill determine whether you experience challenge as an adventure or a threat.

There are also a number of connections with more specific conceptual structures. For instance, Mindset fits very neatly into the Dilts pyramid, showing how beliefs determine capabilities (and therefore behaviours). And, as Dweck shows through her various anecdotes, it is through behaviours that mindsets are transferred to others. Her description of the consequences of a fixed mindset likewise has much in common with F.M. Alexander’s concept of end-gaining.

A key related concept from her home discipline of psychology is the distinction between an internal or external locus of control. Here, again, Dweck is very good on how the behaviours of parents and teachers can shape which the children in their care develop.

I was also finding connections with the work of various writers whose work I have reflected on in this blog. She refers explicitly to the educational work of John Holt…and as I go searching for a link to insert I discover I never actually blogged about his book. This surprises me, given how much I have thought about it! Anyway, he has an excellent analysis of how certain styles of schooling actively produce stupidity in children – stupidity being a strategic withdrawal of intelligent engagement in the face of disempowering educational systems.

Other writers I found myself relating her work to included Daniel Coyle’s accounts of the kinds of behaviours that build expertise, particularly the important of working at the edge of your ability. Matthew Crawford’s thoughts on intrinsic and extrinsic rewards also came to mind; indeed, in some ways I find his focus outwards (onto the concrete reality of the tasks, onto the needs of those you interact with) provide a more secure grounding for actually developing a growth mindset than always looking inwards into your own head.

One of the questions that I didn’t feel Dweck fully answered was how the causal relationship she posited between each mindset and its consequent behaviours and experiences worked. At one level, this doesn’t matter: the correlations are robustly documented and persuasive enough to convince me that one is preferable to the other. But it would be interesting to explore in more depth why the fixed mindset produces more ‘I’ language and a growth mindset more ‘we’.

Right, that’s turned out to be pretty much a shopping-list of past blog posts, and I’m not sure if I’ve added anything very useful in listing them. But the process has been useful for organising my head, so thanks for bearing with me. And I’ve quite enjoyed revisiting the detail of some of my past posts. There’s more there than I remembered…

...found this helpful?

I provide this content free of charge, because I like to be helpful. If you have found it useful, you may wish to make a donation to the causes I support to say thank you.

Archive by date

Syndicate content