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Growth Mindset

Once a blue bird, always a bluebird.

Johnny is the smart one. Sally is the pretty one.

Let me do that—it’s too hard for you.

Fixed mindset statements. Deadly. Stifling. Poisonous.

I grew up in the 1960’s when IQ testing was all the rage. Scientists and educators wanted to know our IQ so they could label and sort us into ability groups. Once tagged, we were destined to stay in our groups forever. After all, IQ is static, right? It never changes, so why would a teacher EVER change group members. Students had no hope of changing or advancement. Once a bluebird, always a bluebird.

Wrong. SO wrong.

Carol Dweck,  world-renowned Stanford University psychologist states, “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits … they also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.”

People with a growth mindset believe skills and talents can be developed and improved over time by  perseverance, determination and training. People with a growth mindset have grit.

Forbes defines grit as courage, resilience, conscientiousness, endurance, and excellence. Angela Duckworth states grit, not IQ, is the best predictor of success.


Perhaps mindsets became fixed when children are told  they have no hope of ever becoming “smarter” than they are now.

The fact of the matter is IQ can and does change over time. We are not limited by a score placed upon us in fourth grade. Let’s ditch the fixed mindset and develop a growth mindset:

Growth Mindset: “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,” writes Dweck.*

We can develop a growth mindset by changing what we say to ourselves and others.

Instead of saying to someone, “You’re smart,” say “Wow, you really tried hard. I appreciate your effort.”

Instead of saying to yourself, “I’ll never get this,” say, “I can get this. I will try something different.”

Instead of saying, “I’m not gifted in this,” say, “I will continue to learn and try again.”

God has created every person with gifts and talents. Let’s commit life-long learning  and help our children to realize there are many different kinds of smart in this world.

Let’s help our children grow.

*Hidden curriculum (2014, August 26). In S. Abbott (Ed.), The glossary of education reform. Retrieved from

By Mary Kay Kane

all rights reserved. copyright 2016.


A Christian woman who wants to make a difference in the world.

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