There was a saying in the 1960's that went: “Becoming is better than being.” The fixed mindset does not allow people the luxury of becoming. They have to already be. But I understand them as talented young people—desperate young people—who succumbed to the pressures of the fixed mindset.

Test Score Is Forever

Let’s take a closer look at why, in the fixed mindset, it’s so crucial to be perfect right now. It’s because one test—or one evaluation—can measure you forever.  

Twenty years ago, at the age of five, Linda and her family went to the United States. A few days later, her mother took her to her new school, where they promptly gave her a test. The  next thing she knew, she was in her kindergarten class—but it was not the Eagles, the elite kindergarten class.  

As time passed, however, Linda was transferred to the Eagles and she remained with  that group of students until the end of high school, garnering a bundle of academic prizes along the way. Yet she never felt she belonged.  

That first test, she was convinced, diagnosed her fixed ability and said that she was not a true Eagle. Never mind that she had been five years old and had just made a radical change to a  new country. Or that maybe there hadn’t been room in the Eagles for a while. Or that maybe the  school decided she would have an easier transition in a more low-key class. There are so many ways to understand what happened and what it meant.Unfortunately, she chose the wrong one.  

For in the world of the fixed mindset, there is no way to become an Eagle. If you were a true Eagle, you would have aced the test and been hailed as an Eagle at once.

Is Linda a rare case, or is this kind of thinking more common than we realize?  

To find out, we showed fifth graders a closed cardboard box and told them it had a test inside. This test, we said, measured an important school ability. We told them nothing more.  

Then we asked them questions about the test. First, we wanted to make sure that they’d accepted  our description, so we asked them:

How much do you think this test measures an important school ability? All of them had taken our word for it.  Next we asked: Do you think this test measures how smart you are? And: Do you think  this test measures how smart you’ll be when you grow up?  

Students with the growth mindset had taken our word that the test measured an important ability, but they didn’t think it measured how smart they were.And they certainly didn’t think it  would tell them how smart they’d be when they grew up. In fact, one of them told us, “No way!  Ain’t no test can do that.”  

But the students with the fixed mindset didn’t simply believe the test could measure an important ability. They also believed—just as strongly—that it could measure how smart they  were. And how smart they’d be when they grew up.  

They granted one test the power to measure their most basic intelligence now and forever. They gave this test the power to define them. That’s why every success is so important...


About our guest author -

Annapoorni Balan

Founder principal of Credence International School Beed, Maharashtra, India.

I have been working in this education field for the past 28yrs and have achieved many laurels and acclaims for my work. I am very passionate about teaching and learning, counseling. Recently I have started to learn how to identify my potential with my writing skills in the form of blogs. It's just the beginning, it's a long way to go.

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