Top critical review
10 people found this helpful
A powerful message, written in a dumbed down and annoying manner
on 23 June 2017
According to Carol Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of "where ability comes from". Dweck states that there are two categories (growth mindset versus fixed mindset). We can group individuals based on their behaviour, specifically their reaction to failure, into one or the other of these categories.. Those with a "fixed mindset" believe that abilities are mostly innate and interpret failure as the lack of necessary basic abilities. Those with a "growth mindset" believe that they can get any given ability provided they invest effort or study.
Dweck argues that the growth mindset "will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life". In a 2012 interview, Dweck defined both fixed and growth mindsets:
"In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it."
A large part of Dweck's research on mindsets has been done in the field of education. The growth mindset is the more desirable of the two for students. In particular, an individual's mindset impacts how they face and cope with challenges. According to Dweck, individuals with a "growth" theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks. Individuals' theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues. For example, children given praise such as "good job, you're very smart" are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset. Whereas if given compliments like "good job, you worked very hard" they are likely to develop a growth mindset.
While elements of our personality – such as sensitivity to mistakes and setbacks – can make us predisposed towards holding a certain mindset, we are able to develop and reshape our mindset through our interactions. Carol Dweck and her colleagues noted that alterations in mindset could be achieved through “praising the process through which success was achieved”. These show how framing and discussing students’ work and effort play a considerable role in the type of mindset students develop and students’ conceptions of their own ability.
The messages are powerful so why the three star review then? Well, the main problem is that the writing is awful. Dweck assumes that her readers won't be able to grasp a detailed explanation, and then a discussion on how to apply the learning. What we get instead is story after story, anecdote upon anecdote, and imaginary dialogues with non-existent people. Added to this are, what seemed to me to be parts cut and pasted from her workshops or training sessions.
I want detail and specifics on how I can apply these ideas in my life! Dweck quotes lumps of Malcolm Gladwell. Stop! Study how he writes, then apply what you have learned to make this a better book. Save your money. Do a Google Search on 'Fixed v Growth mindset infographic' and you'll get the key messages.