What do you think about your abilities?

By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have formed certain beliefs about our abilities, skills, and talents. But these beliefs can vary wildly, based on our upbringing, values, and personal experiences. And unfortunately as adults, we rarely revisit our inherent assumptions about our own abilities and intelligence.

Think about the following statements and how much you agree with each.

“You can learn new things, but you can't really change your basic intelligence.”

“Your intelligence is something about you that you can't change very much.”

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Your Mindset:


When people agree with these statements, they express a fixed mindset — the belief that abilities are fixed. When they disagree with these statements, they express a growth mindset — the belief that abilities can be developed. And of course people might be somewhere in the middle. Most importantly, people's mindsets can and do change.

When people spend time thinking about their own mindset, most can recognize aspects of both growth mindset and fixed mindset in their own thinking. Sometimes, we might have a fixed mindset about some abilities - like math or art - but a growth mindset about others.

But consider just how daunting some tasks can feel and how that can lead to a very fixed mindset, especially for a young student. Take a minute to think about some skill or activity that you have been unable to master in your life in spite of putting in effort. We all have something: drawing, math, gardening, public speaking, home repairs, dancing, etc. Now imagine being forced to do that particular thing in school in front of your peers a few hundred days out of the year. Imagine how stressful that might be and how it might lead you to conclude that you are not very bright or skilled, perhaps permanently.

So why does it matter which mindset a person has at a given moment or about a particular topic? Well, it turns out that your mindset may be more powerful than you think. Check out the next lesson to learn more.

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