Shaler Area to present growth mindset seminar for parents
An important aspect of parenting is praising your child regarding of his or her academic achievements. Researchers are learning that the type of language you use may determine his or her future success.
More than 30 years ago, Dr. Carol Dweck discovered that some students have growth mindsets or the beliefs that their intelligence is malleable with additional studying and effort. On the contrary, others have fixed mindsets, believing that they innately aren't good at certain subjects or tasks.
Based on Dweck's theory, teachers and parents can influence students by offering praise that employs the growth mindset concept. Presenters will cover this topic and more during Mindset Matters: An Evening for Parents on Growth Mindset and the Power of “Yet,” from 7 to 8:15 p.m. May 24 at the Shaler Area Middle School Library. The event is geared toward parents of students in all grades.
Dweck and Claudia M. Mueller's 1998 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that praising students for their intelligence — compared to their effort — had negative outcomes.
Fifth-graders praised for intelligence cared more about their performance goals versus learning goals compared to the students praised for effort, according to the study abstract. Furthermore, the students praised for intelligence had more difficulty handling failure.
“Finally, children praised for intelligence described it as a fixed trait more than children praised for hard work, who believed it to be subject to improvement,” the abstract states.
Shaler Area Superintendent Sean Aiken said the district, which is presenting the symposium, recently hosted a three-month growth mindset book study for staff members. He wants students, parents and teachers to embrace the growth mindset concept.
“Smart isn't something that we are. Students can get smarter and build brain power through hard work and consistent practice over time. Grit and resilience are critical for our students. Knowledge is not fixed. By embracing a growth mindset, students will gain confidence from hard work and learning to struggle and work through that adversity.”
During Mind Matters, Aiken will present on growth mindset and several Shaler Area teachers will discuss how they use it within their classrooms. William Isler, former executive director for the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning, and Children's Media executive director and president of Family Communications Inc., will speak, as well.
“We believe this will help our parents. This mindset shift will change the way our parents think about parenting,” Aiken said. “Instead of telling their child they're good or not good at something, the approach is more about not good yet but improvement will come through effort and resiliency,” Aiken said.
An example of a growth mindset technique is for a parent to replace telling the child that he or she is smart, by acknowledging how much effort the child devoted to a particular project. Similarly, Aiken shared that “learning is a process.” Perhaps, one isn't a good math student. “Instead of verbalizing, ‘I don't like math.' A growth mindset would say, ‘I'm not a strong math student, yet.' ”
Aiken said that he hopes to offer future growth mindset seminars for staff and parents.
Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.