Back to resources

Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential (2012)

Carol Dweck

Background to the report

The book hinges on the idea that it is our mindset, not ability or talent, that leads to our success. The basic idea is that there are two types of mindsets you can adopt- fixed or growth. See the link to the book below.

Main findings

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.

Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training.

A key message throughout the book is that your mindset is not permanent. The growth mindset is based on the belief in change and it is important to know that no matter what stage you are at in life, it is not too late to make a change. This change is a challenge, but it is possible and well worth it.

Impact for education and learning

Dweck argues that schools must not label students – students that identify as ‘not clever’ will carry this label with them across school years and subjects. At the same time, students with a fixed mindset who are labelled as gifted and talented may then feel as though they are failures if they eventually encounter difficulty in their studies.

Additionally, schools must encourage mistakes to be viewed as learning opportunities, and must reward effort rather than talent.

Links to more information

Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential

Mindset website.

Article: 'Mindset: The New Psychology of Success'

How to teach maths with a growth mindset is one of the topics covered in Dr Jo Boaler's 'How to Learn Math' course. Plus you can read lots of Tweets about the course here #HowToLearnMaths.

Back to resources
Share this on: