Advanced Growth Mindset
Mark Fisher recently attended a conference on Advanced Growth Mindset at Vyners School and we got talking about how this approach to feedback can alter your interactions with everyone. Mark said that one of the speakers never praises his children at all for their outcomes. This seems a bit shocking for someone in the keynote speech industry! But, he said that when he praised his son and told him he was an amazing artist, the child never wanted to do art again. What Carol Dweck’s research shows is that praising the person instead of the process is counter-productive. “If I’m good at art, what happens when I get stuck? What if my experiments and work in progress look rubbish? People have such high expectations of me! I’d better not fail, so I’d better not even try.”
Dweck suggests avoiding what she calls ‘Person-orientated praise’ (“You’re such a brilliant sportsperson.” “Great answer – you always get it right first time.”), and instead using feedback to reflect on the learning, i.e. ‘Task orientated praise’ (“That’s a great outcome – What steps did you go through, what would you change?”). Her research, and that of John Hattie (Visible Learning), demonstrates that a learner’s core beliefs about the reasons behind their success have a powerful effect on their attitude to failure and new challenges. Those who think their success or failure is down to something they can change tend to persevere longer than those who attribute their result to something about themselves that can’t be altered.
This made me think about my son, aged 22 months. He gets praise ALL the time from all different directions: “You put that away, HOW CLEVER!!” “You used your spoon, you’re such a bright little boy.” I’m not suggesting he’ll never use a spoon again if he’s praised for it, but what if the need for praise one day outweighs the joy of learning? When he’s just got to get on with stuff by himself or comes across something he can’t do, or doesn’t understand, he’ll have to reflect on the strategies he needs to use instead of thinking he’s plateaued in this area and needs to give up.
See Mark’s blog entry for more reflections on this…