Brain Bulletin #30 - The Secret to Success in School and in Life

in Brain Bulletin

What's the secret to raising smart kids? The secret is....don't tell them how smart they are. Our society values talent and natural ability. Yet research shows that praise focused on effort - not on intelligence or ability - is the key to promoting success in school and in life!

Here is an interesting study:

Two groups of students were given easy problems to solve. The first group quickly solved the problems and they were praised for being smart and intelligent. The second group quickly solved the problems and were praised for their effort and hard work. Then both groups were given another set of more difficult problems. The first group became discouraged and lost confidence. The second group stuck it out and continued to work hard. Finally, a third set of easy problems was given to both groups. The first group did not perform well. The second group improved their performance markedly. Similar studies date back decades.

What's going on here?

People seem to devlop to possible views of their brains - a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

A fixed mindset has a static view of intelligence. "I am what I am." "It is what it is."

A growth mindset has a dynamic view of intelligence. "Let's get smarter." "I love a challenge."

The brain is at the center of all this. Everything you see, feel, hear, and think is controlled by your brain. Your brain allows you to engage masterfully with your everyday environment. It is capable of profound insight, subtle perceptions, difficult feats of memory, and stunning athletic accomplishment. But the most amazing achievement of your brain is that it can understand itself!

Take a moment and consider your mindset. Your brain is not static. It gets better with use. Learning promotes the formation of new connections between neurons in the brain. The result is a better, healthier brain that learns even better and quicker the next time! When people understand this they are more likely to adopt a growth mindset.

This has important implications for school, home, and the workplace. Students with a growth mindset are more likely to seek help or to take on challenges. People who believe the brain can improve are more likely to look for improvement in relationships. Leaders who have growth mindset are more likely to value feedback and to mentor others.

See your brain as a work in progress!

In the next Brain Bulletin I will send you one of the most interesting things I have read in quite a while.