Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Why do so many kids become non-learners – kids who are uncoachable and unteachable?
What happens to some enthusiastic youngsters once they become adolescents?
The gap between the motivated student and non motivated student begins to widen in the middle school years when the work gets harder and the grading policies toughen up. According to Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, “grades tend to suffer but not everyone’s grades suffer equally“. The performance of students with what she describes as a fixed mindset drops off and continues to worsen, while students with a growth mindset start to do better and better.
What is a fixed mindset?
Individuals with a fixed mindset see themselves with permanent traits; that their innate intelligence, their attention span, and their talents are predetermined. “I just can’t pay attention.” “I’m just bad at math.”
These individuals have high levels of discouragement because they chew over problems and setbacks which mean they are incompetent. They stay interested in an activity when they do well right away but can’t enjoy anything that they are not good at. (If you don’t do well, why try harder and waste your time!)
Putting in low effort is the way they protect themselves and they put their energies instead into maintaining an outer image to hide their inward despair and lack of confidence.
They cast blame and point figures. Some one else is usually responsible for their lack of achievement: teachers, coaches, peers, parents. They come to view themselves as victims of outside forces.
They value (so does our society) effortless accomplishment over achievement through effort because they think that effort is only for people who have deficiencies. Effort “reduces” you and is for those who can’t make it on talent. The idea of trying and still failing- of leaving yourself without excuses-is the worst fear within the fixed mindset. Without effort you can always say “I could have been”, but once you try, you can’t say that anymore.
Individuals with a growth mindset make learning and growing a priority. They believe that working harder makes you smarter.
They have found that their basic talents and skills can be cultivated through effort and training. They pay close attention to information that can stretch their knowledge. They remain highly interested even when work is very challenging because they believe abilities are learned.
The worse they feel about an outcome the more motivated they become and the more they confront the problems facing them. They take charge of the processes that bring success and maintain them. They dig in and do what it takes. They are mentally tough.
Understanding and recognizing these mindsets is the key to change.
We each choose which perspective to live by and respond through. Just as we can set our mind on the things above and not on the things on this earth, we can also maintain an enthusiasm for growth or we can become complacent.
As much as our culture talks about individual effort and self improvement, deep down, we like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who are uniquely gifted and not normal, ordinary people who made themselves extra ordinary through hard work. Most “superheroes” have learned how to cultivate a growth mindset. They have learned to keep their focus upward and they maintain healthy habits.
God has endowed each individual with the ability to develop talents and skills but we have a huge role to play in growing them.
Benjamin Bloom, an education researcher studied 120 outstanding achievers from concert pianists, sculptors, Olympic swimmers, and world-class tennis players to mathematicians and research neurologists. Most were not very outstanding as children and didn’t show clear talent before their training began in earnest. Even by early adolescence, their future accomplishments were not predictable by current ability. Only their continued motivation and commitment to hard work took them to the top. (From Mindset by Carol Dweck)
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