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The education fad that’s hurting our kids: What you need to know about “Growth Mindset” theory — and the harmful lessons it imparts

The education fad that’s hurting our kids: What you need to know about “Growth Mindset” theory — and the harmful lessons it imparts
One of the most popular ideas in education these days can be summarized in a single sentence (a fact that may help to account for its popularity). Here’s the sentence: Kids tend to fare better when they regard intelligence and other abilities not as fixed traits that they either have or lack, but as attributes that can be improved through effort. In a series of monographs over many years and in a book published in 2000, psychologist Carol Dweck used the label “incremental theory” to describe the self-fulfilling belief that one can become smarter. Rebranding it more catchily as the “growth mindset” allowed her to recycle the idea a few years later in a best-selling book for general readers. By now, the growth mindset has approached the status of a cultural meme. Unlike grit — which, as I’ve argued elsewhere, is driven more by conservative ideology than by solid research — Dweck’s basic thesis is supported by decades’ worth of good data. But “how well they did” at what?

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Grit: A Skeptical Look at the Latest Educational Fad (##) Fall 2014 A Skeptical Look at the Latest Educational Fad By Alfie Kohn This article is adapted from The Myth of the Spoiled Child, which contains references to the relevant research. Strategies for Encouraging a Love of Reading Fifth grade teacher Anna loves to read. Books line her shelves at home, she requests Barnes & Noble gift cards for every birthday, and she belongs to a book club filled with her friends who also love to read. So she’s a tiny bit baffled when she announces to her fifth graders that they have thirty minutes to read anything they want--ANYTHING at all!--and she’s met with resistance. It’s important for kids to read not only to develop their literacy skills, but to enhance their growing vocabulary, be exposed to different ideas, and develop their own learning. After all, how can a student read the social studies chapter if she refuses to practice her reading skills in general?

Alfie Kohn Is Bad for You and Dangerous For Your Children Alfie Kohn has been a leading voice in education for better than two decades. The author of 11 books and numerous articles in high-profile outlets, he is an influential go-to guy for education reporters seeking expert comments on everything from standardized testing policy to student motivation. Let me admit at the outset that I don’t really believe reading what he has to say is bad for you. But if Kohn were writing about his own work, that would probably be his takeaway message. Kohn has made a virtual industry out of finding interesting and provocative insights in the psychological literature and following them off the edge of a cliff.

Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!" (**) September 2001 By Alfie Kohn NOTE: An abridged version of this article was published in Parents magazine in May 2000 with the title “Hooked on Praise.” For a more detailed look at the issues discussed here — as well as a comprehensive list of citations to relevant research — please see the books Punished by Rewards and Unconditional Parenting. Para leer este artículo en Español, haga clic aquí. Hang out at a playground, visit a school, or show up at a child’s birthday party, and there’s one phrase you can count on hearing repeatedly: “Good job!” Interactive Reading Strategies Reading aloud is an important skill, but it can be all too easy for us to allow this activity to become mundane and detached by repeatedly conducting “popcorn reading” or simply reading aloud to the class and asking students questions. Deb, a 9th grade english teacher, asked the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE! for recommendations on reading strategies to promote student engagement. Read on to learn six strategies for interactive reading that are recommended for teachers, by teachers.

"Failure is an option. Fear is not”: Creating a safe intellectual space for learning SmartBlogs This month, SmartBlog on Education is exploring classroom design and management — just in time for the new school year. In this blog post, educational leadership professor Maria Boeke Mongillo offers five ideas for “constructing a space that supports possibilities rather than perfection.” Film director James Cameron once said that young filmmakers should adopt the motto “Failure is an option. Fear is not.” His point was that in order for new artistry to emerge in his field, filmmakers have to take risks and explore the potential of their medium without worrying about whether the product is successful or marketable. This struck me as a good motto for classrooms as well. Growth mindset: What interventions might work and what probably won’t? Whether discussed under the guise of ‘resilience’, ‘grit’ or ‘character’, there appears to be a great appetite for psychologically manipulating pupils’ personalities or their attributions about school. One concept which has particularly captured the imagination of teachers and school leaders is ‘growth mindset’: the idea that children who possess incremental theories of intellect (a growth mindset) appear to achieve better grades than those who possess an entity theory of intellect (a fixed mindset). The claim that there are attributional differences between pupils which can affect their experience of school and their academic outcomes is well supported. You can read a bit more about some of the psychology behind the idea of a ‘growth mindset’ here: Growth Mindset: It’s not magic

Challenging Advanced Readers in Upper Elementary School You’ve got twenty-four kids in your class. Nineteen are reading on grade level, but five are above. What’s a teacher to do? That’s exactly what Jana wrote to the We Are Teachers HELPLINE! this week. 7 tips to study smarter Underlining and highlighting, reading the material over and over again and cramming — these common study habits don’t actually help retain information, a Washington University professor has found. Want to make that time you spend hitting the books worthwhile? Use study sessions to test yourself, says Henry Roediger III, a professor of psychology and co-author of “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.” One researcher calls that kind of effort a “desirable difficulty.”