“ The power of Growth Mindset is in believing that an improvement can occur”.  Carol Dweck Ph.D.

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After years of research into a special branch of psychology related to our belief systems, Carol Dweck, PhD, a psychologist at Stanford University, discovered a simple yet groundbreaking principle to achieving success in all aspects of life. Her inquiry into the way our belief systems shape our ideas about success and failure reveals that intelligence and personality are not carved in stone, but rather can be developed or grown. She argues that we hold the power to our own potential, which is largely dependent on our mindset and in particular whether we have a fixed or growth mindset.

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Dweck’s university students begged her to collate her findings into a book so that she could share with others the principles of growth mindset, which had revealed such incredible results in her research.  Her insightful and motivating book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success reflects the ideology of modern psychology and the belief that by changing the way we think about and approach different aspects of our lives, by applying the principles of growth mindset, we can have a powerful influence over the outcome. (Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck is Available at the Arthur Holt Library).


Fixed or Growth Mindset …Which do you have ?



“Growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” on the other hand, the fixed mindset is – “ Believing that your qualities are carved in stone”, that you only have “a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality and a certain moral character.” (Carol Dweck)


Consider the following excerpts taken from “Mindset:..”


“Read each statement and decide whether you mostly agree with it or disagree with it.

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.

      2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.

      3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change quite a bit.

      4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.


Responses 1 and 2 are the fixed-mindset responses. Responses 3 and 4 reflect the growth mindset.”

Did your answers lean towards one mindset or the other? You can be a blend of the two mindsets, but Dweck conveys that we will normally lean more towards one than the other. The good news is we can change our mindset.

Our ideas about risk and effort come from our mindset.



Alfred Binet


According to Dweck “people’s ideas about risk and effort grow out of their most basic instinct”. Alfred Binet, the inventor of the IQ test, originally designed the test, not as a measure of a fixed intelligence, but to identify children who were underperforming in French schools, so as to design educational programs to lift their performance and improve their scores. Many of us think about our intelligence as a fixed quantity, however, Binet himself is quoted by Dweck in her book as saying “ A few modern philosophers…assert that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity that cannot be increased. We must protest against this brutal pessimism…With practice, training and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgement and literally to become more intelligent than we were before”.


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The science behind learning: How do we learn?

Scientists in the field of Neuroscience and Neuroplasticity support the idea that we can become more intelligent and shape our brains through our everyday behaviours. Dr Lara Boyd tells us that neuroplasticity is a continuous processing allowing short-term, medium- term and long-term remodelling of the neurosynaptic organisation of the brain and that increased difficulty and challenge in our learning actually leads to “increased structural plasticity”. In other words, our brains actually grow and change in structure when we challenge ourselves and learn new things. She highlights the importance of large amounts of practice and of repeating the behaviours that are healthy for the brain, as ‘behaviours that you employ in everyday life are important. Each of them is changing your brain.”

Dr Lara Boyd Ted Talk How do we learn? The Science Behind Learning


The Power of believing we can improve…

Carol Dweck highlights the Power of ‘Not Yet’. She conveys that we are on a learning curve and that if we haven’t achieved it, we just haven’t achieved it yet! We just need to ‘build the bridge to yet’. Dweck proposes that as educators and parents it is this effort and process that we need to praise in our students. This is what leads to perseverance and long term growth.

She argues that “ We can actually change student mindsets. In one study we taught them that every time they push out of their comfort zone, to learn something new and difficult, the neurons in their brain can form new, stronger connections and over time they can get smarter.”

Ted Talks The Power of Believing You Can Improve. Carol Dweck


The Growth Mindset creates a passion for learning.

With the knowledge that our abilities can be developed comes a well nourished passion for learning. As Dweck encourages in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success… “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them?…And why seek out tried and true , instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well , is the hallmark of the growth mindset.”

By Mrs Heanly

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