Rather than be the guy who just wishes everyone at his school would read Mindset by Carol Dweck, a powerhouse of a book with huge implications for teaching, parenting, and living life, I decided to try something different. I wrote about my first reading of the book this summer, and since that time have been ruminating on how I can encourage a discussion of the ideas on my campus. I know that I can’t force anyone to pick up the book, nor would I want to be some bibliocrat who did, but the thought of inviting people in my school community to join me in a discussion about Mindset struck me as exciting. If parents and teachers, heck students too, were to really talk about the “growth mindset” ideas in Dweck’s book some pretty cool possibilities could emerge about the way we work together to support kids.
Next step: A Diegueño book club! I’m inviting my school family to read Mindset this month and then come together in December to talk about the ideas Dweck presents. For those who do, I think there will be lots to discuss about and connections to be made to how we encourage students.
In a nutshell the book presents the differences between a “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset” using examples that make the ideas clear. As an educator, I’ve seen both approaches to life in my students, my teachers, and (if I’m honest) myself.
Put simplistically, those with fixed mindsets believe that people are generally “good” or “bad” at certain things, and that they reach a limit, the ability to draw for example, and plateau. Failure, in this case, signals hitting that limit.
A growth mindset says that improvement is always possible, and that setbacks teach us as well as successes. With the belief that effort and resiliency combine for the greatest results, this way of looking at life suggests persistence and the ability to see challenges as speed bumps, not roadblocks, leads to progress. It’s about taking a failure (“I can’t draw a monkey!” and adding one word: “I can’t draw a monkey …yet.”)
The implications for learning are great.
At their best, schools are havens for growth mindsets, as resilient students meet teachers who believe in them and push them to succeed. Sometimes obstacles get in the way of believing that we all can learn and improve, and I’m optimistic that carving out some time to read Dweck’s book and talk about it may help us all focus on the transformative possibilities in our students and ourselves.
Will a Diegueño book club work? Can open discussion about big ideas succeed in our school community? Will really thinking about these growth mindset ideas change the world, or at least our corner of it? I’m not sure …yet.
The first Diegueño Book Club, discussing Mindset by Carol Dweck, will be on December 9th from 5:00-6:30 in the media center. This gives us time to read the book, chew on the ideas a bit, and think about some things we’d like to talk about together.