A new study has been receiving some media attention for showing that praising someone’s athletic performance results in….their improving their performance. Interestingly, even though it’s clear in the study that the praise is very specific about what was being done, the researchers don’t seem to even highlight that point — they just say that praising someone is successful.
Of course, any research that reinforces what we teachers know is good practice is welcome, but, really, haven’t these folks ever heard of Carol Dweck?
A few months ago, though, I heard about one of her recent research projects that bothered me a bit, and, then, today, I saw a column she co-wrote about it in The New York Times. It’s titled “Willpower: It’s in Your Head.”
In it, she challenges the research findings of Professor Roy F. Baumeister, another researcher whose work has influenced my teaching practice. Professor Baumeister has written a great deal about self-control, and I wrote a piece in Education Week about how I apply his findings in the classroom — he also contributed a guest commentary.
Basically, Professor Baumeister (and many others) have concluded that self-control is a resource that can be depleted, and needs to be periodically replenished. Professor Dweck claims that it only is depleted if you believe it needs to be replenished.
That’s a very simplified summary, and I’d encourage you to read both her piece and Professor Baumeister’s commentary to get a more amplified view, as well as learning more how I interpret it for classroom use.
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.
Earlier this morning, I contacted Professor Baumeister to get his reactions to the critique. Here is his response (and he granted permission for me to share it here):
[Many] things can make a difference right at the beginning of depletion, when you’re only slightly depleted. we have replicated her finding that getting people to believe in unlimited willpower makes them do better when they are slightly depleted. but that same manipulation actually makes them do worse when they are severely depleted.
Laura Gibbs is an online instructor who teaches mythology and folklore at the University of Oklahoma; find out more at mythfolklore.net.
Growth mindset: this a term familiar to many teachers, but it’s even more important for students to learn what the growth mindset can mean for them. You can tell students about Carol Dweck’s research that shows how learning results from effort over time, not simply from “brains” or raw talent. You can provide details about neurobiology, and you can talk about potential, persistence, and other abstract notions. But how can you really reach students, especially younger students, with these ideas? Here’s a possibility: growth mindset memes!
By combining text and images, memes are able to make a powerful impression, often conveying complex ideas in just a few words. The brevity of memes makes them a great option for student composition, and free online tools like Cheezburger and Automotivator (to name just two) make it easy for everyone — students and teachers alike — to create memes and share them on the Internet.
So, after a great presentation on growth mindset by Laura Slade at the Upgrading Online conference on June 24, 2015, I decided to create a blog where I could publish and collect growth mindset memes while also inviting others to share and contribute. You can see the blog here: Growth Mindset Memes.
We hope that others will want to contribute either by creating your own blog of growth mindset memes, or perhaps a Cheezburger Board like the one by Magistra Susan — or even just by sharing your memes with the #growthmindset hashtag at Twitter. There are lots of possibilities; here are some ideas about How to Contribute.
And to give you an idea of what the memes can do, see what you think of these LOLCats with a growth mindset (made with Cheezburger):
So, if you are a teacher with an interest in growth mindset (and it’s valuable for teachers of all subjects at all ages), see what kinds of memes you can invent, and then set your memes in motion by sharing them online. To learn more about growth mindset and what it can offer both students and teachers, be sure to check out Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, and you can also follow the #growthmindset hashtag at Twitter.
I regularly highlight my picks for the most useful posts for each month — not including “The Best…” lists. I also use some of them in a more extensive monthly newsletter I send-out. You can see older Best Posts of the Month at Websites Of The Month (more recent lists can be found here).
In addition to just being fun to watch, English Language Learners could watch it and then describe what they saw happening….:
Learning about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is a key lesson in most IB Theory of Knowledge courses, and I’ve also been able to integrate it into my English Language Learner classes, too.
You can see many of the resources I use in the classroom, including student-made videos of modern parable versions, at our class blog.
Today, TED-Ed released a lesson and accompanying video that will be a nice addition.
John Lewis was interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Here’s the extended interview (there may be something wrong with the show’s embed code. If you can’t see it here, go directly to the Daily Show site):
The World Science Festival has just published a much better video responding to this question, and which I’ll definitely be using in class:
This video from The SciShow on YouTube is about the Nobel Prize for medicine given to the developer of the lobotomy.
It’s of particular interest to me since my Uncle was one of a number of immigrant children from low-income families who were diagnosed with so-called behavior disorders and lobotomized. This practice took place in the 1940’s. He was institutionalized for the rest of his life following the procedure. I have vivid memories of his visits to us — from the moment he entered our home he was always looking at his watch concerned about getting back to the hospital on time.
Here’s an intriguing video from BuzzFeed. Thanks to Open Culture for the tip:
My only critique of it is a line that is always infuriating to me when people talk about charter schools. The segment mentions that the KIPP school students are selected by lottery and suggests that makes them comparable to students in other public schools. However, it doesn’t mention the fact that families who are particularly invested in their children’s education are ones who would go through the effort of registering and participating in a lottery, which makes blanket comparisons to students in other schools invalid. Of course, I also have other concerns about KIPP’s “character education” program.
I’ve embedded it below, but you can also see it on the TED site at the previous link. That site also has a written transcript of her comments.
Here’s an excerpt:
I was also struck by this passage:
“…we can actually change students’ mindsets. In one study, we taught them that every time they push out of their comfort zone to learn something new and difficult, the neurons in their brain can form new, stronger connections, and over time they can get smarter. Look what happened: in this study, students who were not taught this growth mindset continued to show declining grades over this difficult school transition, but those who were taught this lesson showed a sharp rebound in their grades.”