Since the 1870 Education Act demonstrated a commitment to the provision of schools, educators have sought out the most effective way to teach the diverse range of children under their care. For years, intelligence was viewed as static; an individual was either smart, or they weren’t. This led to teachers focusing their efforts on those they deemed intelligent enough to prosper. The development of Intelligence Quotient, or ‘IQ’, tests to classify cognitive ability reinforced the idea that a person’s ability is fixed, with the use of these tests now hotly debated.
In the early 20th century, John Dewey argued that every child’s intelligence could be developed, given the right environment. In addition to this, he believed that, ‘education is a process of living and not a preparation for future living’. In other words, we learn by doing and continuously develop our talents and abilities throughout our lives. Fast forward to 2006 when similar ideals were proposed and refined by psychologist, Carol Dweck, in her book – Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
Dweck’s theory suggests that we fall into two broad camps – fixed mindset and growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence is limited and cannot be changed in any meaningful way. Success confirms their perception of inherent abilities and avoiding failure becomes a way of demonstrating a sense of smartness. Those with a growth mindset believe that their talents and intelligence can advance given enough time and effort. They do not see failure as evidence of unintelligence, but as an important way to learn and develop their existing abilities.
Dweck’s compelling research and studies, which backed up her theory, prompted educational facilities to quickly adopt growth mindset practices. But are people truly able to adapt their mindset? Does evidence continue to support Dweck’s original research, or is growth mindset yet another fad?
A Summary Of Contradictory Evidence
Before reviewing the evidence for and against mindset intervention, let’s examine whether or not growth mindsets are realistic. It was believed by the majority for many years that we learned all that we needed to during childhood and that the adult brain did not change, except in deterioration. This would not support the idea that intelligence is something that we can develop.
In the late 1960s, a study found that brain cells known as neurons could reorganise after experiencing trauma, allowing the lesser accepted theory of neural plasticity to gain traction. An extraordinary influx of research over the last few decades explains how neuroplasticity allows the brain to physiologically change due to interactions with the environment, beginning in utero and continuing until the day we die. The connections between neurons continually adapt to our changing needs. What does this mean? Our brains are capable of life-long learning and we can enhance our abilities with repeated practise.
Growth Mindset Studies
The majority of mindset studies carried out since the release of Dweck’s book support her theory. They have led to the development of large-scale school interventions, with the aim of increasing academic success. A meta-analysis conducted by Macnamara and colleagues, however, concluded that there is not a strong line of evidence that mindset interventions in schools are effective. With regard to academic achievement, they found that standardised test scores in the US increased by a modest 0.08.
It is crucial at this point not to discount the credibility of mindset practices altogether, but to examine the effectiveness of the interventions themselves. The way in which mindset interventions are carried out may play an important role in whether or not any meaningful changes in learning strategy are observed. For example, defining a growth mindset without suggesting how to put it into practice may not be sufficient in its power to induce a change in how a person approaches a challenge.
A recent paper published in the journal, American Psychologist, discusses what can be learned from mindset controversies and concludes that we are justified in our confidence in mindset interventions. Perhaps then, our next step should be to ensure that the mindset courses we build are effective.
How Can I Change My Mindset?
Changes in mindset are most easy to adopt at an early age, however, with the right level of commitment, adults are perfectly capable of altering the way they think and behave. During 6 unique modules, individuals examine their current mindset and learn skills such as visualisation and emotionalisation, which challenge their negative thought patterns and make long-term changes to their mindset.
After adopting a new way of thinking, adults do not view their failures as sources of embarrassment, but as decisive moments in which to learn. By viewing challenges with a growth mindset, we are able to set ourselves more ambitious goals and more easily achieve success.
Reserve Your Place On ‘The 6 Laws Of The Mind’
The debate over whether mindset interventions are effective has only sparked research into how to ascertain that those which are implemented yield positive results. Not only is growth mindset not a fad, our understanding of its significance is growing.
To sign up to Dr. Jan’s new course, The 6 Laws Of The Mind, visit his website and register using the online form. After reserving your place, you will receive a complimentary phone call with Dr. Jan himself to discuss your current mindset and how to get the most out of each module. You may then work through the course at your own pace and revisit each section as many times as you please.
Break down the thought barriers that are preventing you from reaching your potential. Register for The 6 Laws Of The Mind for a more fulfilling future, today.