Psychologist Carol Dweck wrote a book called . In it, Dweck suggests that there two distinct mindsets: the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. Below is an except from her book.
“A fixed mindset is one that accepts the idea of predetermined abilities, aptitudes, and talents that can only be proven or not.”
“A growth mindset is one that believes that traits like these are not fixed, but can be cultivated, learned, and changed.”
These mindsets are attributed to differing behavior traits: fixed mindsets avoid new challenges and are quick to give up when they fail. “The growth mindset is persistent, tenacious, and views criticism constructively.” Both mindsets are choices people make, and those choices can affect every aspect of their lives. For instance, those with a fixed mindset tended to care only about test results over whether or not they actually understood the material they were supposed to be learning.
Failure is viewed by one with a fixed mindset as a definition of who they are as a person. Those with a growth mindset are more likely to take “failure at a specific task as a learning opportunity.” Most people do not have just a fixed or a growth mindset. Most of us exist on a continuum. By understanding the theory that there are two distinct mindsets, we can move ourselves more in the direction of a growth mindset.
At Elmwood, we greatly believe in helping children and staff develop a growth mindset. Camp is a perfect place to try new things and fail. We create a safe place for everyone to take risks and learn that we can always get better when we put in the effort. We believe that children have unlimited potential and all they need is an environment that encourages them to try.
We work hard at helping kids avoid saying, “I can’t” or “I’m not good at that.” Rather, we promote a culture of effort. “I can’t do it right now” or “I’m not good at that yet.” Resilience, effort and hard work learned at Elmwood can be powerful tools that children can use outside of camp.
We are continuing look at new ways to teach a growth mindset in our program. We are taking steps in adjusting our curriculum so that it better reflects the tenants of a growth mindset model. We are committed to training our staff in understanding the growth mindset and how to cultivate it in their campers.
Elmwood is a growth mindset organization. We believe that we can always improve and this is just one more challenge that we are excited to take on.
To learn more about Carol Dweck and the growth mindest, check out this TED Video: https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve