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Growth Mindset

Updated: May 12, 2021

We often think of Carol Dweck's Mindset paradigm as a personal or choice to be understood from an individual's standpoint rather than as a corporate or organizational culture choice. Dweck gave examples of leaders of organizations with a "fixed" mindset, such as ENRON's focus on personal reputation rather than corporate reality. Or, Chrysler's Lee Iacocca, whom Dweck said her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2007), resurrected the company and began focusing on his reputation while the company declined.

There was a time in my career I thought I was a forward and relational thinking professional operating in a growth mindset. In retrospect, I often teetered between a "fixed" and "growth" mindset solely based upon campus culture or company expectations. I remember administrators speaking of their desire for teachers to have a "growth" mindset in which mechanized instruction became the norm, and "failure" was never an option nor acceptable. Their idea of a "growth" mindset was being "positive," being a "team-player" (no questions asked), and benchmarked data points met. In other words, Carol Dweck's research became a modeled buzzword that someone in the administration building learned at a conference and returned only to regurgitate bits and pieces of a full course meal to district principals who forwarded this process on to their teachers. Teachers who took the time to read or research Dweck's writings often became "growth" mindset champions working in a "fixed" mindset environment. In a data-driven world where all students must pass the same standardized test, will we ever have an institutional or organizational growth mindset in education?

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine, 2008.

Dweck, C. (2017, March 06). Carol Dweck on "Developing a growth MINDSET culture IN

organizations": Talks at Google. Retrieved 2021, from

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