Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I have been running multiple book groups recently on the book "Mindset" by Carol Dweck. If you are in the field of education or if you are a parent I highly recommend it. The posts to this blog are shaped by my worldview of the educational field, and "Mindset" has enriched my vision of what education should (and more importantly shouldn't) be in the 21st century. Our fixation on standardized tests, summative scores, and ranking student performance reinforces what Dweck refers to as a fixed mindset. In this state success is reserved only for a limited few, not everyone can make it, and your ability to grow is limited. In our (educators) race to 'raise achievement', we label and pigeonhole kids as 'in need of remediation' and other euphemisms that indicate they do not fit into our narrow paradigm of educational success in the standards era. When students get these messages, they internalize them into fixed mindset statements that limit their ability to experience true growth and success. If we wanted to turn this paradigm on it's head, we would create authentic learning experiences that allow students to demonstrate mastery in ways that make sense to them and capitalize on their unique skills and talents. When they don't succeed the first time on an assessment, we would provide alternate pathways and additional opportunities to demonstrate mastery and (more importantly) to improve. This is how we behave as actualized adults.....(the old try/try again model)....but why is it that we don't afford our students the same opportunity? For states it is about the cheapest way to measure performance, and this is destroying creativity among our young people and creating a generation of learners incapable of operating independently without steady, specific directions from 'authority figures'. Is this what we want for our country?

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