“This is Hard. This is fun.” – Carol Dweck
This weekend, the boys and I created our own robot. I am talking electrical engineering kind of robot building. We included batteries and used red and black wires. We even added electrical tape. It was hard. And it was exhilarating. Together, we constructed a mini bot that had an on/off switch, a 3-volt motor, and moved in a circle.
With this awesome invention in mind, I should make a few confessions. First, I have always put myself in the category as “not the science girl.” It wasn’t my thing growing up. Second, I not only put myself in a category of not being a science person, but I had a belief that intellegence was fixed. Therefore, I believed, you could try hard and do the best you could with what you were given, but your smarts were never going to change.
Then I read a book, and realized how wrong I was. Like all good books do to– they teach you and grow you. So, little by little I have begun to unravel how I have viewed myself. My view of intellengence has changed and I am a better person for this shift. As a result, I can now no longer say that I am “not a science girl.”
Dwerk explains that we all have a little of both mindsets in us. In fact, as I embarked on reading her book, I had assumed I was going to fall strongly in the growth mindset side. However, after a lot of reflection, I began to see how many fixed mindsets I have.
While I totally recommend reading her book for yourself, you can get an idea of her overall message from her TED talk.
The idea of a fixed mindset is one that doesn’t change. A “fixed” mindset examples, “I not an athlete” Or “You are either smart or you’re not.” Or “I don’t want to look like a failure.” Another example of a fixed mindset could include, “I am awesome at this, I don’t need help.” When a person has a fixed mindset, they will often have a negative internal dialogue, avoid challenges, and give up quickly.
On the other hand, is the growth mindset. When a person has a growth mindset, their inner dialogue is strikingly different then one of a fixed mindset. They will use phrases like “Mistakes help me learn.” “I am on the right track.” “I tried really hard on that project.” When a person has a growth mindset they have the belief that they can always learn and grow. Additionally, mistakes are viewed as ways to improve, and not as failures.
Growth Mindset and Parenting
Since reading the book “Mindset”, I have found myself saying way more “fixed” mindset phrases that I could have ever realized. For example, we got my son a slackline for his birthday. When I set the slackline up, I was shocked at hard it was. My legs were shaking and I couldn’t get myself off the ground for more than a second. I immediately stated, “This is impossible” – a total fixed mindset comment. I caught myself and rephrased, “Well, this is really challenging and I am always up for a good challenge, but I need some practice.”
Carol Dwerk stated, “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves to praise. They will have a lifelong way build and repair their own confidence.”
My kids, do not need me to be perfect. They need to see that I can learn from my mistakes. When I can model a growth mindset, they are more likely to begin to display the mindset in their own lives.
Learning with my children how to build a robot was not just fun for them, but it was incredibly fun for me. Together we made a ton of mistakes. Our wires would get disconnected somewhere along the line and we had to go back and check them all. Our robot moved in a slanted circle for a while until we realized that the markers were placed at different levels.
Read more about play her here: www.melissahyder.com/play
Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” As a parent, if I want my children to embrace a growth mindset, I too need to be a lifelong learner, willing to make mistakes and tackle all of life with a passionate curiosity.
Building a robot together we were able to explore, express our curiosity, and learn that building a robot is challenging, but completely possible. We watched as our mistakes moved us closer to our goal and paved an foundation for our next robot making endeviour. We saw that when we stuck to the task, did not give up, we could actually learn how to make a robot.
If I can learn to make a robot, so can anybody else.
Our minds are powerful and have the ability to learn, grow and even get smarter. Moving our thoughts from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset will continue to bring success in our own lives as we become examples to our children. Imagine a learning environment where mistakes were welcomed, assessments are seen as ways to grow, and learners looked at challenges with excitement and eagerness. Incorporating a growth mindset in our lives: work, school, and family will create individuals who are healthier, happier, and more successful.
Teaching A Growth Mindset
There are many ways in which we can teach a growth mindset. Looking at our own selves is the first step. Being curious about our mindsets by observing our own mental dialogue can be powerful. Furthermore, reflecting on questions like: How do I look at problems? Do I believe that I can learn something new? and Do I avoid challenges? These questions continue to reveal insights into how we think.
To take this process one more step, you can fill out an online quiz.
Read Learn Grow
Additionally, reading about the growth mindset is helpful on the journey. Here are a few of my favorites:
- “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth
- “The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.” By Daniel Coyle
- “Play: How it shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul” by Stuart Brown
Children’s Books I love related to a Growth Mindset:
- “Beautiful Oops” by Barney Salzber
- “What to do with a problem” by Kobi Yamada
- “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds
- “Mistakes that Worked” by Charlotte Foltz Jones
- “Rosie Revere, Engineer” by Angela Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts
- “She Persisted” by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
- “Malala’s Magic Pencil” by Malala Yousafzai and illustrated by Kerascoet