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Kate Freeman

ED 5998/HON 3000

Mindset Essay #1

Carol Dwecks Mindset: The New Psychology of Success delves into the

difference between the growth and fixed mindsets. Within the first few

chapters, Dweck explains the growth mindset. This mindset reinforces the

idea that, with hard work, we can change and grow through application and

experience, (Dweck 7) regardless of what our initial aptitudes are.

Conversely, the fixed mindset is the opposite of this. It embodies the idea

that an individuals skills and abilities are set in stone; regardless of how

much effort they put in, they will not succeed if their skills are not up to par.

Depending on which mindset an individual has, it can either set them up for

success or failure. Those with the growth mindset may fail, but ultimately

have the tools to recover, and are willingly to put in the effort and see where

they went wrong. This allows them to grow and adapt. However, people with

the fixed mindset are often too afraid of failure, so they do not try anything

new or challenging in the first place, and their abilities do not grow.

Unfortunately, the fixed mindset often reinforced, especially in our education


Its not uncommon in our society for the fixed mindset to be reinforced

into children as a result of praise and positive labels. Children are frequently

praised as intelligent and smart, rather than for their work ethic. This

becomes problematic when a child does not meet the expectations the
systems, or they themselves, have set. If they encounter failure, they do not

have the tools to recover, and their potential is not reached; these

individuals fear failure too much, that they refuse to put in the effort

necessary to succeed. Dweck gives specific examples of this occurring within

the first three chapters. In one case, four-year-olds were given the choice to

redo an easy puzzle, or try a new, harder one. They noticed the children that

felt they were born smart did not try hard puzzle, for fear of failing, as

smart kids dont do mistakes (Dweck 16). This could hold true later in life,

as these children could become adults that dontt challenge themselves, and

never reach their full potential. Another example Dweck provides is within

CEO disease, as these individuals are often put on a pedestal with high

expectations and positive labels. Stuck in the fixed mindset, these individuals

do not take risks, and their companies suffer. For example, the CEO of

Chrysler would not dramatically change their car models over the years,

allowing Japanese cars (to have) rapidly swept the market (Dweck 20). Ive

also had troubling experiences with being in a fixed mindset after being

labeled as a smart kid. My senior year of high school I took AP Calculus,

and began getting grades of Cs and Ds, which disheartened me and made

me put in less effort. It wasnt until my Calculus teacher and brother

encouraged me to continue to put effort in, regardless of what the outcome

might be, did I begin to see improvements in my grades. For the many

people trapped in this fixed mindset, failure seems like the end of the road,

rather than an opportunity to learn and better oneself.

The many lessons explained by Dweck in Mindset, are crucial to all

young learners, especially the young women of the GO-GIRL program. If

these girls choose to pursue a career in the STEM field, they will undoubtedly

be met with individuals that will discredit their abilities simply based on their

gender. While they may not have the abilities needed for these fields

innately, it doesnt mean they cant acquire them through hard work. But

even one encounter with an individual that discredits a girls potential could

be enough to turn the girl off from the STEM field entirely. In order to

prevent, we must reinforce the growth mindset within the girls, and explain

that their gender does limit them--they may fail, but they can use it as

opportunity to continue growing and learning.


Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random

House, 2006. Print.