RSA ANIMATE: How To Help Every Child Fulfil Their Potential


in my work we find that some students have a fixed mindset about their intellectual abilities and talents they think intelligence is just a fixed trait you have a certain amount and that’s that this is the mindset that makes kids afraid to try because they’re afraid to look dumb but other students have a growth mindset they believe that intelligence can be developed through their effort dedication learning and mentorship from others they don’t think everyone’s the same or that anyone can be Einstein but they understand that even Einstein wasn’t the guy he became before he put in years and years of dedicated labor I’m going to organize this by telling you about a study we do with hundreds of students making the transition to seventh grade they’re about 13 years old it’s an extremely difficult transition the work gets substantially harder the grading gets more stringent the environment becomes less personal and that’s a crucial time it’s a time when many students turn off to school so as they entered we measure their mindsets that is we saw whether they believed intelligence was fixed or could be developed we monitored their grades and math over the next two years we also measured a lot about their attitudes toward learning they had entered seventh grade with just about identical achievement test scores but by the end of the first term their grades jumped apart and continued to diverge over the next two years the only thing that differed were their mindsets now let’s see why and how the happened the first thing we found was that they had completely different goals in school the number one goal for kids in a fixed mindset is look smart at all times and at all costs so their whole lives are oriented toward of weighting tasks that might show a deficiency but in a growth mindset they where they believe intelligence can be developed their cardinal rule is learn at all times and at all costs that brings us to the second mindset rule in a fixed mindset effort is a bad thing they believe if you have ability you shouldn’t need effort and if you need a lot of effort it’s a sign that you don’t have ability I believe that belief that if you have ability you shouldn’t need effort is one of the worst beliefs that anyone can have I think it’s why so many of our promising students don’t fulfill their potential they go along coasting along not trying that hard the other kids have to try one day they have to try to and they can’t do it whereas students in a growth mindset say effort is what activates their ability and rule number three in a fixed mindset a setback or deficiency measures you and reveals your limitations so what we find is that those students and the fixed minds that try to hide their mistakes or run from their mistake conceal their deficiencies but those in a growth mindset they mistake setbacks natural part of learning it’s what happens when you take on challenges so if fixed mindset gives no way for students to handle difficulty they may get discourage give up lis or become defensive acting board often this idea this statement it’s boring it’s a cover for a fixed mindset it means I’m afraid to try or acting out blame the teacher on material how are these mindsets transmitted it we’ve studied this in a number of ways but maybe the most interesting way is through praise for 15 years we have studied how adults praise effects students we undertook this work at the height of the self-esteem movement when the Guru’s are telling us all it appraise our children’s ability tell them how brilliant and talented they are but for 15 years we have found praising children’s intelligence harms them it puts them into a fixed mindset and turns them off to challenging learning let me tell you about a series of studies we did with 10 and 11 year olds we brought them to a room in their school we gave them 10 problems from this non verbal IQ test initially they did pretty well because they were matched to their age level and each child received one form of praise a third of them got intelligence praise wow that’s a really good score you must be smart at this or process praise that’s about the process they engaged in could be their strategy their effort their focus their persistence wow that’s a really good score you must have tried really hard and the control group wow that’s a really good score I won’t talk much about them because they tended to be in the middle now if you listen carefully to the messages that are embodied in each statement the first one says I value intelligence the second says I value process let’s see what happened first yes indeed praising intelligence put kids into a fixed mindset compared to praising the process but the most astonishing thing to us was that praising intelligence turned kids off to learning because after we praise them we said what do you want to do now things fine with us you want a hard task you can learn from but you might make mistakes or do you want a task that’s like something you’re already good at the majority of kids who were praised for their intelligence rejected the chance to learn in favor of something they were sure to do well on but those praised for the process overwhelmingly wanted the hard task they could learn from they didn’t feel they were in jeopardy if they struggled for a while later we gave everyone a difficult set of problems and here we found that those who were praised for intelligence lost their confidence didn’t enjoy the problems anymore and even when we went back to the easier problems their performance suffered those who were praised for the process remained confident they saw these problems were harder many of them said the hard ones were their favorites and when we went back to the easier ones their performance flourished because they remained engaged and they remained learning a few months ago we published a study showing that mother’s praise to their babies one two three years of age predicted that child’s mindset and desire for challenge five years later so now I feel justified when I intervene with mothers at airports who are telling their babies that they’re geniuses I have the data so remember praise process but it’s even more than that it’s conveyed to children a new value system not about quick easy smart things but like this sit around the dinner table and say who had a fabulous struggle today and each person shares the struggle or if a child does something quickly and easily instead of rushing to tell them how good they are at it we should say oh I’m sorry I wasted your time let’s do something hard let’s do something you can learn braum recently I have fallen in love with a new word yet I heard of a high school in Chicago where when they didn’t master a unit instead of a failing grade they got the grade not yet and I thought isn’t that great because not yet means hey you’re on that learning curve you’re somewhere and so if a child says I’m not good at maths yet it’s like get back on that learning curve I can’t do it yet I tried but it didn’t work yet the more research shows us that human abilities are capable of growth the more it becomes a basic human right for students to experience that growth to live in environments in which all students can fulfill their potential you

100 thoughts on “RSA ANIMATE: How To Help Every Child Fulfil Their Potential”

  1. This is extremely helpful to me as I am a new literacy tutor to children in Cincinnati. This gave me such a great insight!

  2. I'd like to listen to a commentary by Robert Plomin on this video. And thanks for using the word "process" instead of "hard work".

  3. What a brilliant idea for teaching and learning, more particularly for adolescents who are struggling to go through a difficult transition period in their life. Teachers and parents who know how to use the right kind of praise will certainly improve students' performance; Carol, thank you for helping us help kids bring the best out of themselves

  4. This is very, very interesting, however I do have some reservations with such a blanket statement. I do think some children can thrive better when praised also for their intelligence, in other words not only "can they do", but also have the full capacity to do so. In end effect its about not only raising their self esteem, trusting their own abilities and pushing beyond (making learning fun) but also that they learn how to "run and master their own engine".

  5. As a teacher, I prefer not to praise, especially general ones like "good job." It loses it value when it's overused. I would rather describe their process whether if the child is struggling or successfully in doing a task. For example, "I see you are struggling and frustrated in solving that puzzle. Maybe you can ask your friend to help you." "I see you have figured out how to do that puzzle. How about you try this one (a harder one)?" I have seen how their confidence grow and they are willing to take on more challenges as the video stated when the adult focuses on the learning process.

  6. I'm trying to find the study which is described about 5 min in (the one illustrated with the Harry Potter characters). Does anyone know where I could find it? It's for a school project

  7. Oh man! I think I must have been praised for my innate intelligence as a kid, because I never tried and then flat lined in high school. Still, I got rid of that mind-set a while ago and have embraced learning through mistakes. Now I have two kids and I think at least one of them is in the stuck mind-set. At least I've got time to try to turn it around. Thanks.

  8. Very interesting. Could this be true for adults as well? Could receiving the wrong kind of praise effect us in our professional and even personal life?

  9. Oh My God!! this is exactly what's happening with my son 🙁 thank you for letting me know… how do i fix it to a growth mindset? he's 11 now. Is it too late to change the mindset?

  10. I very much enjoy discussing my scholastic struggles with others who also enjoy discussing theirs. I was raised with parents who, 'praised intelligence' to the point that now it's a running joke in my family that I know everything… even though the most commonly spoken words out of my mouth are, "I don't know."

  11. Nice animation. I just showed this video to my classroom of 12th grade math students. One student commented that it's nice to be able to see it and hear it at the same time.

  12. What about the unseen future? what if we complete known physics by adding space torque and create unified physics? What if all new systems in the future are based on the the understanding of the vector equilibrium. Then what happens to all the man made social systems we have created?

  13. Einstein didn't do anything! He invented a theory that's it. Remember energy is a word not a number. So where are the numbers in his equasion. Just a 2?
    Newton is the same. What goes up must come down is his theory. That is only a theory of words. Where are the numbers?
    These guys were puppets….nothing else. If you wonder why you can't relate to Einsteins theory of relativity or any of these that's because they have no practical use. Simple.

  14. Mmm, all the measuring itself actually damages learning. We organize learning to measure progress. That helps a bit. But it damages all gifts outside the measured scales, reduces play (which is learning regardless of mindset), blinds capability to be creative, loving, compassionate, because the whole smart=scoring approach is as damaging as the wrong kind of praise.

  15. A few students were doomed to fixed mindset due to being assigned to the intellect praise group in the experiment.

    I kid.

  16. What if there is no teacher to teach you. Because you have allready learnd what they have to teach you?

  17. Is there a way we could get this infographic printed as a poster? I'd love to have this in every classroom in my kid's school.

  18. I'm definitely using this with my students. Although I've been valuing much more the process instead the result, it's not always something they notice consciously 🙂

  19. Wow, they're pretty much saying "Work hard and don't look at those outdoing you with a tenth of the effort." nice slave mentality enforcing we have here.
    Tough the basis are good, being overconfident is bad and avoiding challenge tool, but the conclusions could be summarized in complete subjugation to a system that is absolutely biased in every aspect and field.
    People are different and thinks differently from each other, the hard work might work for someone who is prone to toiling himself away while others fare a lot better reducing the energy needed to achieve the same results…taking chemistry as an example it is the same difference between supplying the full amount of activation energy into a reaction and adding a catalyst that lowers the amount of energy needed.

  20. Isn't this video just a remix of the Ted Talk Video "The Puzzle of Motivation" posted back in 2009?
    They use the same 3 bullet points and even mention the same Australian company as an example.

  21. Trident Three dimensions to life your self your way of being what you know what you do not know what you do not know rule your life

  22. There are many other conscious methods of teaching. Firstly teachers must not approach as teachers they much sit and learn and read the books together with kids

  23. Another reason to unschool my children. One working on a Psychology Degree and the other working on getting into the NBA! Both have different passions.

  24. UGH. I must be locked in a truly fixed mindset because if another adult approached me at the airport -like Carol Dweck suggests she does- while I'm traveling with a child and offered "tips" to fine tune my parenting skills, I don't think I would hear "not yet" as an attempt at saving my child from the lifelong perils of a fixed mindset; I think I would hear a critical blowhard who needs to watch the animation videos on empathy & mirror neurons. I enjoyed the lecture & appreciated the science (particularly since it aligns well with my own mindset), but airports aren't the place where anyone should expect parents to be receptive to "fresh" perspectives: exhaustion, invasive surveillance techniques and pat-downs, keeping passports & boarding passes together, finding bathrooms & addressing the near-constant needs of a child are enough to make any parent feel somewhere between frazzled and dehumanized already; please DON'T be that person who chooses that same moment to perk up & point out that "good job, Bobby; that's smart" is insufficient and sure to doom Bobby to a long life of frustration in the face of adversity. Just don't be THAT JERK. Especially if you don't have a kid with you and look like you just slept all the way from Paris in a fully reclining seat in first class. Assume that when your bright-eyed pep meets my red-eyed exhaustion, the last thing I need from you is a lesson in pedagogy and resist the temptation to insert yourself into my 18-hour trip w/my kid. I promise I'll appreciate your process: I imagine fighting against self-righteousness isn't easy!

  25. valuable for me as a mother and a teacher, thank you so much. My subconscious self followed the route which makes me so happy.

  26. Thank you thank you thank you for the animation!!! I have ADHD and really can't stand videos over a minute or two. This one kept me engaged the entire time, and was a great lesson to boot!

  27. You said that the only thing that differed between the students over the course of two years was their mindsets. That is impossible. There was certainly more than just their mindsets that were different about them.

  28. Warmed over Charter School dreck is more like it. Progressive educator Alfie Kohn flays this crap: http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/mindset/

  29. Hi RSA! We've watched this video on our Cognitive Science class and I found it really elaborate and appealing! I really love it! Can I repost this video in Chinese video websites since they can't access YouTube there? I will link back here and note original post as RSA and I won't charge others to watch for sure.

  30. 2:00 “The only thing that differed were their mindsets” that sentence makes my skin crawl. I do hope the study was accounting for things like child’s exposure to trauma, mental illness, poverty, and so on. It’s very different to compare a child getting adequate care at home to one who, say, might not be getting proper praise at all. That being said, children DO deserve proper role models who can help them develop a growth mindset. It’s worth it—but let’s not discount how involved it may be for some to develop that mindset.

  31. This is the worst thing I've ever seen
    next year when kids are depressed because they think their parents aren't proud lets go ahead and buy the all ropes.
    And damn this lady's voice is such a tiresome if I showed this to my students they'd fall asleep the first 5 seconds, I know I did.

  32. I was terrible at math and science in middle school and high school. I truly believed only the "smart" kids were good at math because they were "born" with those abilities. Like the video discusses, because I sucked at math, I avoided it at all costs and never tried to get better. It wasn't until college that I began to understand and implement a mindset shift similar to the growth mindset discussed in this video. Instead of believing technical skills were attainable only for gifted individuals, I began to realize that with consistent effort and practice, most skills can be achieved by anyone. This growth mindset of seeking out difficult tasks or processes is directly applicable to the entrepreneurial mindset. Seeking out new opportunities or goals and having the confidence to navigate through difficult and inevitable mistakes will eventually lead to more opportunities and bigger goals!

  33. I was never praised, usually just in the middle, sometimes fell below average- when I was first told I was good at something, I ran with it.. studying a masters degree in it currently.

  34. Nit pick: If something is done easily, it could be that you did not see the effort. Isn't it best to ask if that was really hard? To offer something more challenging to someone who might have worked privately would be tragic. And I think "that was easy for you" is still a fixed mindset – it overlooks that it might have been easy on that day and might be hard on another for the same person.

  35. Fantastic video. We're linking to it from inside our free book summary app. Are there any plans for new videos?

  36. Preventing this mindset is discussed but is there a way for an adult or college student to change years of having a fixed mindset.

  37. Watched the original video and then this one. The images really help process the information better. Also, I spotted the hidden Harry Potter at 1:20 nice touch!

  38. I really hated this presentation. The use of pop culture references threw me out of listening to the talk. The Tri-Wizard Tournament as an example of choosing hard things? Harry really didn't choose it, wanted to back out, and wasn't allowed. Not sure how those examples are legal from a copyright standpoint.

  39. Isn’t the praise test just ruining futures for the children they should all receive no praise so they have the equal opportunity

  40. Great video on growth mindset. I often can get a clue about a child's view on mindset. Some parents often ask if the child behaves in class; others often ask if the child works hard in class. The first child is often of the fixed mindset; the second child often has a growth mindset. I think parents prime negatively or positively a child's mindset (i.e., just as the parent that tell a child that he or she is a "genius" .)

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