How we think about our intelligence influences our success as learners. In her article “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids” in the current issue of Scientific American Mind, Carol S. Dweck, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and the author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” describes two kinds of attitude towards intelligence that affect kids’ performance in school: the “growth mind-set” and the “fixed mind-set.” People with the “growth mind-set” believe that their intelligence can be developed through learning and hard work, while those with the “fixed mind-set” believe that their intelligence is static and cannot be improved. A recent study has found that children with the “growth mind-set” perform better in school, show greater persistence when they face challenges, and are more enthusiastic about learning. In contrast, kids with the “fixed mind-set” are more concerned about “looking smart” than learning, get discouraged with they encounter a problem, and avoid challenges. These differences are also reflected in the workplace where people with the “growth mind-set” are more likely to mentor others and to welcome feedback because they see it as a tool for improvement. Those who believe that their intelligence is fixed are likely to ignore their own shortfalls and shun criticism.
How do you develop the “growth mind-set”? The article suggests praising kids for their effort and hard work instead of their intelligence. Students also benefit from learning about the brain and its ability to change and grow new connections.