Natural Talent or simply your Mindset?

*Throwback Thursday Post*
20151112_161525
 As homeschoolers, we see so many examples of really talented kids having the time to succeed early on at whatever talent they have been blessed with. That is almost the really easy part. Everyone has something that is their ‘thing.’ A natural talent for something academic or not. Too often we watch children find what they’re good at and concentrate on only that. Actually, I have discovered that the truth is we are “talented” in whatever it is that we love. Sure there might be some genetic whatever that, given balanced effort, might make you slightly more successful at x than at y. But those who persevere surpass those with “talent” who don’t apply it. How many times have you seen people give up because something is “too hard”? I think often it’s people have decided way too soon that they must not be good at it–because if they had a talent for it, it wouldn’t be so hard.
 I read this in Scientific American:
HINT: Don’t tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on “process”—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life.
That is why, instead of teaching people to find what they’re good at, we should stress that even if their self-perception is that they’re bad at it, the process of learning is what is actually important. Finding something that is personally worth persevering for, is may be more important than a list of goals imposed by the state or your own curriculum. Changing the mindset from one directed at obtaining a good grade to one of mastering the material seems to be a critical distinction to me.
As I so often do, I started thinking about how fortunate people in history may have had a different mindset than we do today.
While thinking about this issue, I did a quick google search for Latin phrases and found these gems:
ad Astra per Aspera
 A rough road leads to the stars.

Diligentia maximum etiam mediocris ingeni subsidium
Diligence is a very great help even to a mediocre intelligence.

difficile est tenere quae acceperis nisi exerceas
It ‘s hard to retain what you may have learned unless you should practice it.

Dimidium facti qui coepit habet
He who has begun has the work half done

faber est Quisque fortunae suae
every man is the architect of his own fortune

Look at the theme, it’s not about what comes easy to you- it’s about the fact that learning is work. It truly is a skill to learn how to learn. Current research ( and my own personal experience) show that there are two different mindsets.

One popular theory, pioneered by Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, is the idea of growth mindset. Dweck explains that some students believe ability is malleable and can be improved (a growth mindset), while others think it is set in stone, probably decided at birth (a fixed mindset). Evidence suggests that those with a growth mindset seek out feedback on how to get better, persist with work for longer and cope better with change – all attitudes teachers want to develop in their young charges.–Bradley Busch

One of the most important concepts I’ve learned is the difference between the “fixed” mindset and the “growth” mindset.

It’s a little bit like “nature vs. nurture”:

People with a fixed mindset believe you either are or aren’t good at something, based on your inherent nature because it’s just who you are.

People with a growth mindset believe anyone can be good at anything because your abilities are entirely due to your actions.

This sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly deep. The fixed mindset is the most common and the most harmful, so it’s worth understanding and considering how it’s affecting you and the people that you are teaching.

And this isn’t just about school- mindset affects every part of your life: Kids with the fixed mindset are the ones who react to taunting and bullying with thoughts of violent retaliation. Think about that.

In a fixed mindset you can believe that your qualities are fixed, your children’s qualities are fixed, and your relationship’s qualities are fixed – that it’s inherently good or bad, meant-to-be or not meant-to-be. Now all of these things are up for judgment. The growth mindset says all of these things can be developed. Everyone is capable of growth and change. In the fixed mindset, the idea is instant, perfect, and perpetual compatibility. Like it was meant to be.

So, you may recognize yourself as having a fixed mindset.  You can change your mindset just by thinking it through and retraining your brain.

If you are interested in learning more about fixed vs. growth mindsets I will point you to these two books:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance