Brainology and Grit

The article Brainology by Carol Dweck emphasized two main points. That our mindset of how our brains work effects our performance, and how can we encourage the growth of a better mindset? Dweck states that there are two mindsets, a fixed and a growth mindset. She provides evidence as to the impact each of these mindsets has on our academic performance. A fixed mindset leads one to believe that they are born with a certain intelligence and only have a set amount of potential. Whereas a growth mindset focuses on transforming a setback or failure to learn something about ourselves and “grow” our brain.

I recognized times when I was in both mindsets throughout my academic career. In middle school I was a straight A student until I got my first B in Latin and it ruined my 4.0 and my academic performance. It was an embarrassment when my friends were surprised to see me only have a white cord for 8th grade graduation signifying that I was an A and B student. They all had gold cords for being A students and thought I was one of them. As much as I was feeling publicly humiliated, it was also one of the best things for me going into high school. That moment of feeling ashamed brought me into a growth mindset, and a sense of rebelliousness towards my expectations of myself in school. I didn’t combust into flames or get lost in an interdimensional battle between two alien species, as much as I may have wished for it to happen. It was one class, one grade and I got an 86%, I knew people who their best grad was an 86% and it was in one class, the only one they weren’t failing. I worked to bring my grade up trying to get that A before the year was over but was only able to rise a couple percentages in Latin. This was a moment of truth as my grit brought forth better academic grades and a more satisfactory end of my middle school career.

However, this also brought an idea to my head that I should only work a certain amount before giving up on a project and accepting a lower grade. I felt that if I could get a high B on one or two assignments by doing minimal effort then it was worth it. This was a slip into a fixed mindset as I didn’t believe that the extra 4 hours of work to get the A+ wasn’t worth it or not possible after I had already put in 4 hours of work. So, I was comfortable getting a grade other than an A on an assignment or a class. This was healthy because it relieved some of the stress and pressure of school and allowed me to see a larger picture that included some hardship. I was raised in an “good grades” household, and it was an expectation that I would do well in school. My sister had thrived, and I was following her same path of the accelerated and advanced courses, so I should be able to do just as well.

It was this pressure that I also surrounded myself with at school, I ate and talked to the “good” kids, we all shared the same classes of heavier course load, and all continued to do well. But, like middle school once I got my B in sophomore year, I had a deep breath of relief. I could be imperfect, the SAT and ACT coming up didn’t have to go amazing, they just had to go well. If I felt comfortable to take them and was satisfied with my grade and how I performed, then it was ok.

Some of my greatest moments for my personal academic career were my lowest points of performance. Moments when I felt that I could be imperfect and that it was ok. Times when I felt I deserved the grade due to low effort and work or just because I didn’t care in the topic as much. Either way, its those times where I learned that I am more then what I can memorize, and that school doesn’t have to be a competition that feels akin to the hunger games. I had moments of a fixed mindset throughout school, but the best moments of learning have come from times I have found my growth mindset. Places I can see improvement, and accept the work it will take to acquire that desired gain.

The article Brainology by Carol Dweck emphasized two main points. That our mindset of how our brains work effects our performance, and how can we encourage the growth of a better mindset? Dweck states that there are two mindsets, a fixed and a growth mindset. She provides evidence as to the impact each of these mindsets has on our academic performance. A fixed mindset leads one to believe that they are born with a certain intelligence and only have a set amount of potential. Whereas a growth mindset focuses on transforming a setback or failure to learn something about ourselves and “grow” our brain.

I recognized times when I was in both mindsets throughout my academic career. In middle school I was a straight A student until I got my first B in Latin and it ruined my 4.0 and my academic performance. It was an embarrassment when my friends were surprised to see me only have a white cord for 8th grade graduation signifying that I was an A and B student. They all had gold cords for being A students and thought I was one of them. As much as I was feeling publicly humiliated, it was also one of the best things for me going into high school. That moment of feeling ashamed brought me into a growth mindset, and a sense of rebelliousness towards my expectations of myself in school. I didn’t combust into flames or get lost in an interdimensional battle between two alien species, as much as I may have wished for it to happen. It was one class, one grade and I got an 86%, I knew people who their best grad was an 86% and it was in one class, the only one they weren’t failing. I worked to bring my grade up trying to get that A before the year was over but was only able to rise a couple percentages in Latin. This was a moment of truth as my grit brought forth better academic grades and a more satisfactory end of my middle school career.

However, this also brought an idea to my head that I should only work a certain amount before giving up on a project and accepting a lower grade. I felt that if I could get a high B on one or two assignments by doing minimal effort then it was worth it. This was a slip into a fixed mindset as I didn’t believe that the extra 4 hours of work to get the A+ wasn’t worth it or not possible after I had already put in 4 hours of work. So, I was comfortable getting a grade other than an A on an assignment or a class. This was healthy because it relieved some of the stress and pressure of school and allowed me to see a larger picture that included some hardship. I was raised in an “good grades” household, and it was an expectation that I would do well in school. My sister had thrived, and I was following her same path of the accelerated and advanced courses, so I should be able to do just as well.

It was this pressure that I also surrounded myself with at school, I ate and talked to the “good” kids, we all shared the same classes of heavier course load, and all continued to do well. But, like middle school once I got my B in sophomore year, I had a deep breath of relief. I could be imperfect, the SAT and ACT coming up didn’t have to go amazing, they just had to go well. If I felt comfortable to take them and was satisfied with my grade and how I performed, then it was ok.

Some of my greatest moments for my personal academic career were my lowest points of performance. Moments when I felt that I could be imperfect and that it was ok. Times when I felt I deserved the grade due to low effort and work or just because I didn’t care in the topic as much. Either way, its those times where I learned that I am more then what I can memorize, and that school doesn’t have to be a competition that feels akin to the hunger games. I had moments of a fixed mindset throughout school, but the best moments of learning have come from times I have found my growth mindset. Places I can see improvement, and accept the work it will take to acquire that desired gain.

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