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What Makes Kids Tune in, Tackle the Tough Stuff?

Challenges grow intelligence and mistakes make more neurons fire. It is a strange and counterintuitive thought that doing a thing wrong teaches more than doing it right, but brain scans show that is the case. And strangest of all for a generation charged with helping all children feel good about themselves, praise is highly overrated. Apparently, never losing was not the answer.

Dweck’s research sorts student outlook into those who think they can figure things out, a growth mindset, and kids who believe that they can’t. The latter is a fixed mindset, where being smart or talented is something kids are born with, everyone else is just out of luck. Of consequence for those looking at education equity issues, Dweck’s research has found that instilling a growth mindset has the greatest effect on the achievement of low-income students.