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Suspending judgement

One of the most compelling aspects of Dweck's work is that it is essentially arguing that we need to stop judging. The fixed mindset leads to a fixation with labels and judgements 'he's clever', 'she's good at sports', 'she can't count',' he's a numpty' and so forth.

These type of judgements of young people's ability aren't simply made at school but also by parents at home. It leads people to feel that they are continually being measured. As young people are capable of picking up subtle messages, they know that what is really at stake is their worth as human beings. This is why Dweck argues that kids with fixed mindset parents know that their concern with poor grades is not so much about their failure to learn a specific thing but the idea that this shows the child is not smart. Often these young people feel that they never quite live up to their parents' ideal. Even when they are successful they are worried about losing this status if they fail.

It is much better for young people if teachers and parents adopt a growth mindset and for Dweck this means 'Don't judge. Teach.' In some of the most powerful passages of her book, Dweck argues that good teachers don't have to love the young people they teach but they have to respect them and see them as capable of getting better if they put in effort and employ better strategies. For Dweck the really great teachers are those who don't just pay 'lip service to the idea that all children can learn' but have a 'deep desire to reach in and ignite the mind of every child'. In case any teacher reading this is saying to themselves, 'that's not me. I'm not a great teacher', it is worth reiterating that the mindset theory suggests that any teacher can get much, much better if they have the motivation and desire to learn.

The internal critic

The judgement inherent to the fixed mindset can also be part of our internal dialogue. Dweck argues that people, whether they are conscious of it or not, keep a running account of what's happening in their lives and what they should do about it. Dweck says that their research reveals that people with fixed mindsets creates 'an internal monologue that is focused on judging'. These judgements can be about themselves or others and they will tend to be very black and white. Growth mindset people are also attuned to positive and negative messages but they are more likely to look for the learning in it and decide what to do differently rather than label themselves and others. Dweck argues that techniques such as cognitive behaviour therapy can be helpful in encouraging people to make more realistic judgements. However she says that such techniques do not necessarily 'confront the basic assumption - the ideas that traits are fixed.'  In other words these techniques do not 'escort them out of the framework of judgement and into the framework of growth.'

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