Okay, so first of all, yes, they did, and yes, it’s so incredibly wrong and horrid and shameful. Let’s get THAT out of the way first.
However, in addition, I have a fair number of thoughts on the opposing mindsets shown. Buckle up, friends; I have some general idea of where I’m headed but I’m not sure how I’m getting there, so this may be a long, meandering ride.
We had professional development about Angela Duckworth’s Grit. Duckworth refers to “grit” as the combination of passion and perseverance, and claims that this combination is what leads to success. Based on her story about the West Point survey, it seems that she is defining ‘success’ as being able to achieve goals that you’ve set for yourself.
The discussion did not really examine this definition of success, which was a shame, as the ability to set appropriate goals is a skill in and of itself. A goal that’s too difficult to reach creates discouragement and frustration, while one that’s too easy doesn’t provide a sense of accomplishment.
Likewise, it would also be helpful to explore passion. Why are different people passionate about different things? What creates passion? Understanding that might help us identify and develop passion, not only in our students, but in ourselves as well.
We did, however, start looking at perseverance. Why do some students give up while others keep trying? We discussed motivation (intrinsic/extrinsic) as well as locus of control, and that brought us to the concepts of “fixed” and “growth” mindsets that Carol Dweck discusses. Students with a fixed mindset view success or failure as based on inherent ability, while those with a growth mindset see it as more connected to the effort they put in or the strategies they used.
And we also noticed that there’s often a correlation between the mindset a student demonstrates and what we hear from parents.
“Bryan’s got plenty of ability; he’s just lazy.” “There’s no reason Susan can’t get her homework done; she’s just lazy.” “I should have studied more for that test. I guess I was just being lazy.”
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard remarks like these about students – from their parents, from other teachers, and sometimes, even from themselves. The problem is, it’s a load of nonsense. And I’m not putting up with it anymore.
One of the things I hear often from my students, my colleagues, and sometimes from myself as well, is “I didn’t have enough time to ___.” Among teachers, this often comes up when we’re talking about curriculum and instructional design. I try to avoid using this statement, because I have serious issues with it.