6 Jan, 2022 at 11:55 | Posted in Politics & Society | 4 Comments

Several years later I developed a broader theory of what separates the two general classes of learners—helpless versus mastery-oriented. I realized that these different types of students not only explain their failures differently, but they also hold different “theories” of intelligence. The helpless ones believe that intelligence is a fixed trait: you have only a certain amount, and that’s that. I call this a “fixed mind-set.” Mistakes crack their self-confidence because they attribute errors to a lack of ability, which they feel powerless to change. They avoid challenges because challenges make mistakes more likely and looking smart less so … Such children shun effort in the belief that having to work hard means they are dumb.

Your-Inner-GeniusThe mastery-oriented children, on the other hand, think intelligence is malleable and can be developed through education and hard work. They want to learn above all else. After all, if you believe that you can expand your intellectual skills, you want to do just that …

People may well differ in intelligence, talent and ability. And yet research is converging on the conclusion that great accomplishment, and even what we call genius, is typically the result of years of passion and dedication and not something that flows naturally from a gift. Mozart, Edison, Curie, Darwin and Cézanne were not simply born with talent; they cultivated it through tremendous and sustained effort. Similarly, hard work and discipline contribute more to school achievement than IQ does.

Carol S. Dweck

Extremely important and far-reaching research indeed.

Being diagnosed a ‘gifted child’ sure is a confidence boost. But it’s not always the blessing people so often assume. It can also blind you to the fact that even if you’re smart, there are other people who are also smart. People you can learn from. Learning that makes brain neurons grow new connections. For some of us that insight unfortunately comes late in life.


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  1. “Anyone can write my fugues if they put the work in.”

    J S Bach.

    • Why does it feel like play, not work, when I learn Louis Armstrong solos? Does all work and no play make Jack a dull musician?

  2. Why isn’t this research associated with as much uncertainty as stochastic risk research, or other econometric research?
    Are you cherry-picking research that tells stories you personally agree with, while bringing out “fundamental uncertainty” only when your gut disagrees with the research in question?
    How uncertain are the stories you personally find appealing?

  3. All gifts have a opposite cost in relationship to others …

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