Growth versus Fixed Mindset


Hafsa Ibrahim, Copy Editor

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset 

The characteristics needed for success


Every so often, a truly groundbreaking discovery occurs. Mindset was one of them, and Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, is credited with discovering it. Her simple idea highlights how powerful our minds are, and that even our most fundamental beliefs can have a profound effect on how we interpret life. 

     The two basic mindsets that shape our lives are the growth mindset and fixed mindset. Understanding both belief systems is instrumental to changing the potentially harmful, preconceived notions we might have when we are faced with a problem or obstacle. It is crucial, when discarding bad habits, to be relentlessly persevering, motivated and driven. Do not be discouraged, and know that the ability to change lies within you. 

     The first type of mindset, the fixed mindset, is the idea that it is impossible to develop or grow mentally, physically or emotionally. This belief is particularly debilitating because people with a fixed mindset see themselves as an unchanging identity, and think that their failures and successes are predetermined. 

     Individuals with a fixed mindset do not try to improve or attempt new things, and are set on maintaining, instead of developing their abilities. In other words, they simply conclude that the characteristics inherited at birth, such as intelligence, emotional levels, sociability and confidence, are set in stone. 

   Oftentimes people with a fixed mindset will resist challenges or will try not to come in contact with difficult situations. 

  “I would like to avoid (challenges), but I know it’s important to embrace them,” Sophia Barton (11) said. 

     Other qualities that are attributed to a person with a fixed mindset include easily giving up on tough problems, ignoring useful constructive criticism, being highly self-critical or feeling threatened by the success of others.

     “I am highly self-critical” Ethan Ledbetter (12) said. I often feel guilty because of what I’ve done or criticism that I’ve received.” 

     It is normal to feel this way sometimes. Wanting to surrender to difficult tasks, dismissing helpful critiquing or feeling like you can’t live up to someone else’s standards is part of being human; however, to truly be the best version of yourself, you must push yourself to overcome these emotional barriers. This is a defining characteristic of a person with a growth mindset. 

     An important aspect of the growth mindset is that it creates a passion for learning, rather than a desire to please or be approved. People with the growth mindset see traits like creativity, intelligence and even relational connections such as love and friendship as things that can be cultivated and improved on. They are excited by potential obstacles and are willing to make mistakes. 

    “I love taking a challenge,” Lydia Stout (10) said. “I’m a person that loves to be surprised with whatever I’m given. Plus, embracing challenges make them easier to handle.”

        While those with a fixed mindset see failure as a discouragement, those with a growth mindset take it as an opportunity to learn and grow. 

     The mastery learning program, a program currently being implemented at Homestead, is aimed at giving students an opportunity to “relearn” information taught in class and “reassess” for a more satisfactory grade. Teachers in almost every area of study use a “Checkpoint A” and “Checkpoint B” as a way to allow a second chance at learning, pushing the progressiveness of the growth mindset and letting students feel like they can do better. 

     “If applied correctly, a student is able to have opportunities to show their learning as they progress throughout the semester,” Holly Lyne (math teacher) said. “Not every student may comprehend (class content) on the same day as everyone else. Why should students’ grades reflect their learning at an instant rather than over an interval of time? Learning occurs when mistakes are corrected.”

     In order to develop the characteristics of a growth mindset, it is important to know that your mistakes are not what define you. You are capable and smart, and can overcome adversity if you have the will to do so. Although giving up is the easier option, especially when learning a new challenging concept or idea, pushing through to the end is much more rewarding and self-satisfying. Indeed, you will see a dramatic change in your own life if you simply believe in yourself and your own strengths. And do not forget, your abilities are not fixed; they can always be enhanced and refined. 

     So, if you are prepared to take on the difficulties that lay ahead of you this year with optimism and an open mind, I implore you to remember that every experience is geared towards your personal growth, and every struggle you are faced with can turn into an opportunity to better not only your mind, but your potential as well.