Carol Dweck Talk Reflections By Nafisa Hussain

On Sunday October fourth 2015, I attended Carol Dweck’s talk on growth and fixed mindsets at the Schultz Art Center in Palo Alto. Carol Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.

According to Carol, a fixed mindset is one’s belief that their basic abilities, intelligence or talent can help them learn rather than learning through hard work. They believe that talent alone without effort creates success. A growth mindset is a mindset in which people believe that their most basic traits can be developed through dedication and hard work. Natural talent is a starting point and can take a person only so far.

The basic message of Carol’s talk was that a growth mindset can be more beneficial when it comes to learning and understanding things better. She showed a lot of statistics in which students at school with a growth mindset performed better on tests than students with fixed mindsets. These statistics and other anecdotes the speaker brought up seemed to keep the audience engaged for the most part.

The audience was mostly composed of adults but there were some adults who brought their kids and teens along.  Although there was not a lot of reaction with basic things she said, you could tell people were thinking what she was saying by the questions they were asking at the end of the talk. People laughed at her jokes which showed they understood them. There were also some people taking notes and taking pictures of the slides.

At the conclusion of her speech, the floor was opened up to questions. The majority of the questions were about how the idea or subject of growth mindsets could be implemented into schools more. All the questions were asked by adults so it seemed like they were interested in perhaps how their children could be exposed to this type of mindset.

After hearing all the questions and thinking back to the talk, I felt inspired to learn more and work harder at school and at other activities and projects I do. I felt a little empowered and boosted in confidence that it wasn’t just about who was the smartest or who something came to more naturally. It gave me more hope that if I put dedication and time into what I was focusing on, that good results would be the outcome of what I was working on. I learned that I needed to be more open to learning new things and to new processes. If I see any of the triggers of a fixed mindset then I need to snap out of them. For example, if a new challenge is put in front of me, I will see it as an opportunity to grow myself. Or if I view something as not being difficult, I will seek something that will challenge me more.