RSA from The United Kingdom is particularly knows for their “graphic recording” of talks that take place there (the one they did of Dan Pink talking about “Drive” is my favorite).
They just released a short one of those animated videos, this one a short snippet of a talk by Ken Robinson. I’ve embedded it below — it’s nice, but to tell you the truth, I’m not sure there’s much “there there,” unlike in his other talks. Of course, it just two-and-a-half minutes long
Of more interest, though, is the non-animated video (also embedded below) that they put on the web of Carol Dweck’s talk there that took place….yesterday (they sure don’t waste time). It’s an hour-long, and it’s nice that they have close-ups of all her slides. I’ve just started watching it. So far, it sounds like a basic review of her work. Even if that is just the case, it’s still interesting!
Here is my brief summary (which I am very open to being critiqued and corrected) and my key “take-aways”:
Professor Dweck is known for, among other findings, developing the concepts of incremental mindset — that people’s traits can change over time — and an entity mindset — where traits are fixed. Many educators, including me, have used her research in the classroom in changing the kind of feedback we give students and in helping them see the physical changes caused in the brain by learning new things (my previously mentioned “The Best…” list give far more details).
In this new study (which focused on dealing with the effects of bullying), Professor Dweck and her colleagues taught six brief sessions to students elaborating on the incremental mindset, and found that they were less likely to react aggressively to bullying and, in general, behaved more appropriately in the classroom. They appeared to believe that neither the supposed reason behind their being targeted and the beliefs of the bullies themselves would be permanent, and tended to be less depressed. Here are some key excerpts:
…our results suggest that an incremental theory may predispose students to behave resiliently when situations of exclusion or victimization arise….
Our findings can inform theories of how social cognitive development can influence adolescent aggression. Past research has suggested that adolescents show an increased belief in the fixed nature of transgressors’ traits and behaviors (e.g., Killen et al., 2010). Relatedly, the early years of high school are a time of heighted social comparison, where one’s social label (especially if it is seen as a fixed label) can be a source of pride or shame, and therefore a powerful influence on how one copes with peer conflict (e.g., Brown, Mory, & Kinney, 1994; Crosnoe, 2011; Eccles & Barber, 1999). Overall, adolescence was predicted to be a special period during which beliefs about the potential for people to change their personal characteristics could play a particularly important role in aggressive retaliation….
Peer victimization or exclusion, as we have noted, can also lead to depression and other internalizing symptoms, and previous correlational research has suggested that this is especially likely when children hold more of an entity theory (Rudolph, 2010). Our experimental study showed that an incremental theory intervention could buffer adolescents from the effects of peer victimization. When adolescents who reported higher levels of victimization were taught to see themselves and others as capable of change, they reported fewer depressive symptoms compared with adolescents who received no treatment.
That’s what the study says about victims. I found what it says about the bullies themselves even more interesting:
One extension of this research is to test whether implicit theories might also be a cause of bullying itself. It may be the case that some students bully others to validate themselves and their status, a motivation that may well be fostered by an entity view of the self. Indeed, adolescents who believe that there are fixed “winners” and “losers” may well wish to place themselves among the “winners” and use bullying as a tool for doing so. Thus, it may be interesting in future investigations to determine whether the present study’s incremental theory intervention would reduce bullying.
One nice “bonus” is that the paper provides a fairly detailed description of the curriculum used to teach the incremental mindset.
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.
My layperson’s analysis of it is that it offers, as this blog post’s headline says, “opportunities and dangers.”
It certainly provides support to those of us who want to spend time in the classroom teaching about and reinforcing a growth mindset with our students. The study says that students having a growth mindset from families with an income in the lowest ten percentile achieved comparable test scores to students with a fixed mindset who came from families with the 80th family income percentile.
So, unless I’m missing something, and I’m open to being told I am, it seems like an impressive result demonstrating the potential positive impact of emphasizing a growth mindset in school.
The study also found that “the lowest-income Chilean students were twice as likely as the highest income students to report a fixed mindset…” It suggests that, as other research has shown (see The Best Articles About The Study Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough ), some of the difficulties some people who come from low-income communities have in applying certain Social Emotional Learning skills to academic endeavors are as a consequence of the socio-economic challenges they face, not the other way around. I do wish, though, the researchers had put a little more “meat” into that explanation.
Unfortunately, the “Let Them Eat Character” crowd could very well use these kinds of results to push for growth-mindset lessons instead of providing adequate support for schools, students and their families.
The researchers end with – what seems to me, at least – this attempt to inoculate themselves against being accused of supporting that kind of strategy:
“To be clear, we are not suggesting that structural factors, like income inequality or disparities in school quality, are less important than psychological factors. Nor are we saying that teaching students a growth mindset is a substitute for systemic efforts to alleviate poverty and economic inequality. Such claims would stand at odds with decades of research and our own data. Rather, we are suggesting that structural inequalities can give rise to psychological inequalities and that those psychological inequalities can reinforce the impact of structural inequalities on achievement and future opportunity. As such, research on psychological factors can help illuminate one set of processes through which economic disadvantage leads to academic underachievement and reveal ways to more effectively support students who face additional challenges because of their socioeconomic circumstances.”
I’m not sure when your entire paper can be easily interpreted as saying that having a growth mindset can eliminate most of the achievement (or better, “opportunity”) gap, this short paragraph is enough…
If you can get though the paywall, or if you can at least read the Ed Week summary, let me know what you think of my analysis….
Mai Xi Lee has done a tremendous job working with schools in our district to implement Social Emotional Learning. In this video, you’ll hear what it looks like (and, you’ll see a few clips of me and my classroom ):
Police Body Cameras: What Do You See? is a new very impressive interactive at The New York Times. After first soliciting the reader’s general feelings about the police, the interactive shows several staged police encounters from different cameras and angles – asking you to judge what you think you saw. Then, those judgments are compared to other what others said and their feelings about the police. It’s extraordinarily useful to just about any class, and will be a superior addition to my Theory of Knowledge lesson on perception, Videos: Here’s The Simple Theory of Knowledge Lesson On Perception I Did Today. That post shares several other videos showing the same event from different angles.
Filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent 3 years collecting real-life stories from more than 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, he captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all; struggles with poverty, war, homophobia, and the future of our planet mixed with moments of love and happiness.
I’m always trying to learn new classroom discussion strategies, particularly using the sequence of big-to-small-to-big (pose question,assignment and sequence to the entire class; have them break into small groups; then come back to the entire class to share and discuss). This kind of strategy works great for English Language Learners and, I think, for just about everybody else, too. So I was excited to see this short video on The Teaching Channel (embedded below and here’s the direct link to it at The Channel).
I hadn’t heard of the “Wingman” strategy before (call me “PC,” but I’d probably call it “Wingperson.” Basically, students go into small groups (for example, a group of three) and one person is designated as the “Wingman.” That person’s job is to listen to the discussion between the classmates in the group and use a sheet to evaluate the quality of the work (for example, if they are using certain sentence starters or if they are talking excessively) and then to write down their own thoughts and summarize what occurred. Then, that student can provide a report to the class. There are lots of variations, of course. If you register at the Teaching Channel (it’s free and easy), you then gain access to some nice materials, including a sample Wingman worksheet.
Brainwaves has issued another great video — this time a short interview of Jonathan Kozol. Actually, there are two. The first is five minutes, and the second is one minute of him talking about the great Fred Rogers. As a bonus, I’ve also included an NPR video of him from last year. Here’s an excerpt from the new video, followed by all the videos themselves: