I first came across the concept of fixed mindset back in 2002 when reading Malcolm Gladwell’s article, “The Talent Myth.”  He used the Enron scandal to illustrate how smart people (that is people praised for being smart) perpetuated a scandal.  His argument was based in the mindset theories of Carol Dweck.  What made sense to me as a teacher was how praising students for being smart often led them to take fewer risks and  rest on their laurels as opposed to students praised for working hard or persevering.  Those students often kept taking risks, kept working hard, and often showed the biggest improvements.  Likewise, athletes praised for natural ability tended to disregard feedback and work less whereas athletes praised for their work ethic listen to feedback and worked harder.

Mindsets have implications beyond our students.  What about teachers and coaches who are praised for being smart/accomplished?  Or superintendents?  Do we engage in learning and hard work despite that praise?  Do we seek to grow through learning?  Or do we believe we know it all and thus are fixed in our beliefs and practices?

Here is my updated list of growth mindset resources:


Make sure to read her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” which is just one of the three books highlighted in this article.