Dr. Carol Dweck made interesting findings in her research on motivation and personal development. She discovered that the mindset of a learner is the deciding factor in how much they can achieve.
Perseverance is key
Dr. Carol Dweck discovered that there were two reactions when a learner was faced with a task that was beyond their level of skill or knowledge. They either gave up or continued. The difference between learners who gave up and the ones who continued was their mindset and how they viewed failure.
Dr. Dweck therefore coined the term ‘Growth Mindset’ which means: to believe that one’s skills and even one’s intelligence can be practised and improved. Even though the validity of her research has been criticized in academic circles, you cannot deny that there is a lot of truth to her findings.
If you believe that intelligence is not the most important factor in achieving your goals and that hard work also gets you there, you will automatically spend more time working hard to solve a problem and as a result also achieve more. If you believe that being successful is connected to how intelligent you are, when faced with a challenge, you will give up sooner and never reach your full potential.
Growth Mindset vs. School Grades
This is exactly the problem with the intensive focus on grades in educational systems, which (as a reminder) are neither valid nor reliable nor objective, and the use of grades as a measure of performance.
Students are put into categories instead of focusing on their development and understanding that the current state (which grades actually claim to measure) is irrelevant. Even the most motivated students will start to doubt themselves after continuously receiving low grades and then the vicious circle begins.
This is not only true for most students but might also be true for their teachers. If teachers believe that the grades of a student are the main indicator of how successful and 'intelligent' they are, they will not be able to do their best to support their students, especially the ones with low grades. But what is even worse is if teachers stop believing in their students altogether.
If you understood the concept of Dr. Carol Dweck's growth mindset, you will understand why this is a big problem.