Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am a senior at Penn State majoring in Agriculture and Extension Education.  I have reached the point in my education that I will be learning about methodology and teaching styles in the fall to prepare me for my student teaching experience.  I will be starting my student teaching in January with Valerie Fry at Selinsgrove High School.  Part of my fall classes requires myself and Mrs. Fry to both read the same book and then discuss and reflect on the ideas presented.  We have chose to read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, PH.D.  The book is about the difference in people's mindsets and how to identify the differences.  The book thus far, has included a lot of stories of successes of individuals with a particular type of mindset.  I would like to reflect and summarize main ideas and theories I took away from each of the first three chapters. 

Chapter 1:  The Mindsets
This chapter opened the book by teaching me of the two different mindsets that one can have; fixed or growth.  Those with a fixed mindset tend to believe that qualities and abilities are carved in stone and are assigned at birth.  For example, if you are gifted in math, you have always been gifted just with your natural abilities.  There is no extra required work needed; if your good, your good if your not, your not.  These individuals also require lots of feedback but only if it is positive and confidence building.  If they have any feeling that they have failed at a task, then they will give up and adopt the idea that they are a failure.  If they have excelled at a task, they feel on top of a mountain but need positivity and praises to keep them there or the will spiral down into a feeling of failure.  Once they have mastered a task, they don't want to challenge themselves by going to the next level for the fear of not succeeding so instead they just stay stagnant at the last level of success.  On the other hand, those with a growth mindset believe that basic qualities and abilities are things that can learned and can cultivate through hard work and efforts.  They never stop seeking to learn.  Growth mindset learners feel that there is no success earned with out effort.  Even if you already have mastered a task, you should strive for the next level and keep learning and pushing yourself to do better.  They appreciate a challenge and are want to hear helpful criticism so that they can adapt and grow.  

Chapter 2: Inside the Mindsets
This chapter includes many stories of individuals that compare their personal mindsets and where they have gone in life.  Many of those with a fixed mindset started early life off being called geniuses or child prodigies.  They were always being praised and told that their skills were amazing and had a natural gift.  These people just road on what people had told them was a natural gift and did not exert any additional efforts or practice, leading to them being passes up by those with growth mindsets and efforts have paid off.  It also discussed the idea that those with a fixed mindset also suffer from playing the blame game.  This is when they blame their failures or misfortunes on others.  It never has to do with them not practicing or learning new skills; its everyone else's fault.  The reoccurring example within the book is John McEnroe, famous tennis player.  He never strived to push himself or learn to adapt to new situations; it was never his fault.  The examples of growth mindset mentioned  were Micheal Jordan, famous basketball player and Chuck Yeager, an elite military pilot.  Chuck differed from other pilots, as they believed they were special and born with much more bravery and smarts because they were a pilot.  Chuck said "There is no such thing as a natural-born pilot.  The best pilots fly more than others; that's why they're the best." 

Chapter 3: The truth About Ability and Accomplishment
The final chapter I will be reflecting on talked about how to recognize accomplishments of students.  Studies conducted showed that if individuals were given constructive and specific praises they were likely to change from a fixed mindset to growth.  Saying things such as "Your hard work paid off" or "Really nice job, I can tell you put a lot of effort in" guides students into a growth mindset.  Phrases such as "Wow, your really smart" or "You really have a gift for this" will only support a fixed mindset.  This chapter also discussed stereotypes and the affects that they have on mindsets.  Stereotypes such as woman can't succeed in math and science, or African Americans are less intelligent hinder individuals.  This especially has negative effects on those with fixed mindsets because they feel that no matter what they will never succeed; they feel their destiny is already determined by stereotypes.  But it still expresses that with hard work, effort and a strong growth mindset, you can succeed and overcome your faults.  They do briefly talk about how this needs to be used in context of course.  Those who have access to money, higher connections, and additional resources have a better chance of achieving goals and keeping a positive mindset no matter why type.  No everyone is able to access all resources however, so some have to work and work even harder to achieve success but with a growth mindset they will have a better chance of reaching goals. 

I cannot wait to dive deeper into this book and see what the gems are held within the pages.  I am really hopeful that there are lots of example of how to keep a positive growth mindset overall in a classroom of students.  I would love to have my future students all have a growth mindset and continuously strive to do better and keep raising the bar for themselves.  I already have learned a lot and I have only began.  I never thought much about the feedback and praise given to students and how that can effect their mindset.  I didn't know that calling someone gift or smart could in return someday lead to downfall.  I would love to hear what you guys are thinking thus far of my book and my reflections; feel free to comment or leave questions below.

Thanks for reading everyone! 


  1. Macy, I think it is going to be critical for you when reading/posting to always think and share of SPECIFIC applications to your future #AgEdu Program.

    Also, do not forget about the power of multimedia (ie photos, videos, etc)


  2. I hope to join you in your reading journey. I recently learned what book you're reading and am waiting for my eBay bid to be a winner so I can get caught up. (Sometimes being a teacher means being frugal.)

  3. Hi again Macy! I'm glad that you see how someone's mindset can (and does) affect every aspect of their life! In class, relationships, and while learning and teaching! I suggested this book because my building principal led a voluntary book study on this text. I didn't participate but heard such great feedback that when Dr. Foster explained this assignment, I knew it was my 2nd chance. So far, I'm impressed. I'm realizing that I need to work harder to encourage and push students who don't have "natural ability". This is something we should strive to work on while we're together. I think it's easy to push those who show promise and accept that not everyone can win. I'm hopeful that we will bring students to their full potential in the classroom, while developing and executing SAEs and as they work through the FFA POA! Even when their interests might not align to ours! The great thing about agriculture education is that it's so broad. Everyone can find something that they relate to and a place to succeed! -Valerie

  4. Hey Macy, I am so excited that you are reading about Growth vs. Fixed mindset... my school encourages us to respond with growth mindset phrases when a students says they can't or won't do something. We reply YET. Example, "I am not good at this Bio assignment..." we reply YET. It is interesting to think about how something as simple as one word can change a students perception! Keep on reading Macy!


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