My blog last week asked the question: “Patience, persistence, calm, resilience. How do we learn these things?”
A faithful reader and lifelong educator (who happens to be my wonderful sister-in-law, Linda) reached out and suggested I look into the work of two researchers: Dr. Angela Duckworth on “grit” and Dr. Carol Dwek on growth mindset.
Here is a teaser on grit from an interview with Duckworth. She talks about how resilience has many meanings: optimism, bouncing back from adversity, overcoming significant challenges. She goes on to observe (italics added):
“What all those definitions of resilience have in common is the idea of a positive response to failure or adversity. Grit is related because part of what it means to be gritty is to be resilient in the face of failure or adversity. But that’s not the only trait you need to be gritty.”
For me the clincher is what she says later about the research:
“So grit is not just having resilience in the face of failure, but also having deep commitments that you remain loyal to over many years.”
Wow. Two wonderful things we try to model and teach our children: deep commitment and loyalty. But I digress.
Angela Duckworth goes on to talk about how her research and Carol Dwek’s relate.
“One thing we’ve found is that children who have more of a growth mind-set tend to be grittier. The correlation isn’t perfect, but this suggests to me that one of the things that makes you gritty is having a growth mind-set.”
I’d like to now introduce you to Dr. Dwek’s work. She is interviewed by K. Meier and shares the definitions of fixed and growth mindsets:
“Those [with growth mindsets] who continue to excel in the classroom, in spite of setbacks, are those who believe their abilities can be developed through learning and effort. They believe everyone can change and grow by putting forth effort to enhance basic qualities. Those students who believe they have an innate or fixed intelligence fare worse in the classroom. They typically have less motivation, resiliency, and lower grades. They believe everyone has a certain amount of intelligence, and this cannot be changed or enhanced no matter what. “
Normally I would let you follow the article link if you were interested, but I think the following chart from the article which contrasts fixed and growth mindsets is profound, so I’m including it here.
There is a lot to digest here, but not only does this relate to the power of positive thinking, it speaks to building self-esteem in our children. It seems to me that individuals who demonstrate growth mindsets also have good self-esteem. Dr. Dwek suggests that growth mindsets can be learned so it may be a good way to improve how children (or adults) feel about themselves.
If you want to learn more about Dr. Dwek’s work, watch her TED talk: The Power of Believing You Can Improve.
I’m putting the growth mindset chart on my fridge along with the Paul Coelho prose from my December 4th post, “Being Present.” Its getting crowded with my self-improvement efforts!
Think about it: are you a fixed or growth mindset person?
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