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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