A few minutes ago I published a post that repeated my admiration for Carol Dweck’s work, one of numerous posts I’ve written sharing that perspective.
However, I did publish one a couple of years ago that was critical of an op ed piece she did in The New York Times questioning extensive research that found self-control to be a limited resource that needed to be replenished. Dr. Dweck suggested that operating under that belief was contrary to her rightfully admired perspective on having a growth-mindset. In other words, it only needs to be replenished if you believe it can be depleted.
As I wrote in that post:
I’m all for having a “growth mindset,” which is another concept that Professor Dweck is known for and which I use with my students. However, especially with adolescents, it seems to me that we need to recognize that our students are not Supermen or Superwomen, and it’s unlikely that many — if any — have an unlimited level of self-control. My students and I have found Professor Baumeister’s research very useful and I have often seen it work effectively. The key, of course, is that we need to help our students develop effective strategies to replenish their capacity for self-control.
So why am I bringing this up now? Well, another researcher whom I admire, Heidi Grant Halvorson, has just written a widely-seen article with the title How You Can Benefit from All Your Stress. She makes an argument for stress similar to Dr. Dweck’s on self-control.
Comments on that piece make many of the same points I would make in a critique, though more eloquently than I would.
I believe that there are much more effective coping ways I can help students at our 100% free lunch (who also receive free breakfast and dinner) school to deal with stress than encouraging them to look at it as a way to grow (and an extensive lesson plan in my new book provides even more details).
I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that:
your mindset about stress may be the most important predictor of how it affects you.
We’re all familiar with the saying, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, than every problem looks like a nail.”
Helping our students develop a growth mindset can be one of the most important life skills lessons we can teach. But let’s also recognize that it’s not the solution to everything.