Excerpt from the essay…
When we believe that our abilities can improve with effort, we have a growth mindset. By exploring the stories we tell ourselves, Brian explained that we can shift our internal dialog from believing that our abilities are fixed, to trusting that our abilities are malleable. In his TEDx talk, Brian shared that a teacher once told him that her school had a scheduling mix-up where children who were not believed to be capable of honors-level science work were accidentally placed in the honors science class. The students did well. The teacher told Brian, “Maybe ‘honors’ is a mindset all children can have.”
Brian reminds us that “struggle is normal and something we all experience.” In his talk, Brian discussed a Texas study in which eighth-graders were assigned mentors. One group was mentored about the dangers of using drugs. The other group’s mentors focused on helping their students have a growth mindset. Those students were told that “the brain, like any other muscle, can grow with effort.” At the end of the year, the students mentored about the value of a growth mindset performed better than those mentored about the dangers of drugs.
To help our children push on when they want to quit, we must change our own mindset and encourage our children to do so as well.
As I rewatched his TEDx talk this week, I was reminded of the student I had met the summer before. I will return as a faculty adviser next summer and work with hundreds of other students struggling with their own fixed mindsets. Could I, too, mentor the students to shift their internal dialogues and to develop growth mindsets? Could I shift my own mindset and that of my children?
Brian has left an indelible mark on public education, and he has inspired the next generation of teachers and students alike. But as we mourn the loss of our friend, we know his lessons will live on through those lives touched by his work and his kindness. The teachers he inspired will encourage their students to do so as well.
“Smart is not who we are; it is what we do.”