A big emphasis is placed on a child’s intelligence. Despite our interest in how “smart” a child might be, we also know that intelligence does not always ensure success in school and life. Numerous personal, social, family, and economic factors contribute to how well a child does over the span of a lifetime.
French psychologist Alfred Binet devised the first measure of intelligence in 1904. Binet came up with the intelligence quotient—or IQ—as way to determine which French children were likely to need special help in school. The average French child would have an IQ of 100.
Binet’s work contributed to the idea that intelligence is a single quality and that “smart” people would do well in many learning situations, according to Robert E. Slavin, author of Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice.
However, educational researchers like Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., now theorize that intelligence is not a fixed property, established at birth. Instead, Dr. Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, considers people’s mental abilities to be malleable and capable of growth. She encourages people to take on a growth mindset that is based on the belief that one’s basic qualities can be cultivated and improved through effort.
Dr. Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, writes, “Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”
In her book, Dr. Dweck explains that she actually started her educational career believing that intellectual skills were carved in stone, but then she got interested in the kids who naturally knew how to turn failures into opportunities to learn and succeed. Hard work is emphasized by Dr. Dweck. She sees how students thrive, even though they don’t have top scores. These are the students who like what they’re doing and know how to work hard. Of course, these students benefit from teachers and adults who know how to encourage hard work and persistence.
Do you want to learn more about promoting a growth mindset in young people? Join us for Mindset and Intelligence: Improving Student Success through Persistence, a free webinar presented by Kent Pekel, Ed.D., President and CEO of Search Institute, on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 12PM – 1PM, CST.