The Power of Believing You Can Improve
Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology, Stanford University, spoke to a full house
in Kemper Auditorium on Monday, May 4, 2015. As a guest speaker hosted by the Tang Institute at Phillips Academy, she spoke to an audience of primarily faculty from PA and from other area schools, but had earlier in the day visited with students and smaller groups on campus. According to Dweck, working through struggle and challenge are the keys to unlocking potential—and it’s never too late to start.
PA’s Head of School John G. Palfrey introduced Dweck by saying: “There is really no one working right now in the field of psychology who says more important things about the way in which we approach adolescents in the context of education … In some respects, if I could say to families that we could—in addition to those things we have done for 238 years or so—promise that students would be exposed to and ideally improve their growth mindset during their time here at PA—that would be an extraordinary thing for us to be able to say.”
Dweck and her colleagues’ significant body of research, spanning more than 30 years, has focused on the study of growth mindset, which is the belief that intelligence and ability can be developed through hard work, taking on challenges, good strategies, and collaboration with others. A fixed mindset, on the other hand, is the belief that intelligence and talent are innate, fixed traits. Parents and educators can help children to develop a growth mindset as early as babyhood, by praising process and effort, rather than outcomes. During her talk, Dweck described a number of studies that demonstrate how mindset predicts the kinds of achievements children have—at school and later on in life. She also said that entire organizations can have a mindset that, in the best case, leads to “collaborating, innovating, creating, and dreaming big.” Mindsets can be changed and abilities improved with the right interventions, according to Dweck, who also believes that helping students to fulfill their potential is a basic human right.
For coverage of Dweck’s talk at PA and more information on her path-breaking research, view the full article, “Fostering Growth Mindset.”