• Question: Yoiu definitely seem to have a 'growth mindset' - do you think that has come 'from within' or has someone encouraged you to be like this? If so, who?

    Asked by Anon to Sean on 28 Apr 2015.
    • Photo: Sean Talamas

      Sean Talamas answered on 28 Apr 2015:

      I am quite a strong believer of the importance of a growth mindset. In my early years of education (k-12) I always had below average grades, usually due to poor attendance and issues at home. I had an Uncle and Grandmother who eventually became huge mentors in my life and made me realize how much of my life was in my own control, regardless of the circumstances. Literature defines this as ‘locus of control’ or the extent to which individuals believe they can control events affecting them. Understanding of the concept was developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, and has since become an aspect of personality studies and I am sure it is related to growth mindset.

      Till this day most of my achievements stem from the mindset that most things in life are under my control or that I can influence them to a surprising extent. In terms of mentoring others to develop a similar mindset, I think its important to reward achievements and point out how those achievements were not due to innate ability or circumstances.

      The Ted Talk by Dweck mentions how students who were told they did well on an exam because they worked hard did better on future exams than students who were told they did well on an exam because they were smart. http://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve?language=en

      I don’t think this type of personality is innate – I think it stems from growing up in an environment with little opportunity and being advised by mentors that any opportunity that comes up is due to the work I put in. This may be harder in an environment rich with opportunity, in which opportunities for achievement can easily be confused as good fortunate (fortunate enough to be in a opportunity-rich environment) – proper guidance would remind the student in any kind of environment that their achievements are not due to the circumstances, but the effort they put into reaching those achievements.