“Mindset training” is a trendy practice designed to help students—especially marginalized students—do better in school by teaching them that their brainpower is not fixed forever, but can grow and change with effort. This is called a “growth mindset.”

But does it work? Several smallish studies have suggested it might, so recently a British team conducted a larger, more rigorous study. Without further ado, here are the results:

The effect was zero on every single metric. In fact, there was nothing even close to a significant effect. The mindset training simply produced nothing.

The more I read about education, the more I think everyone should give in and just admit that conservatives have it largely right. Direct instruction works. Phonics works. Discipline works. This doesn’t mean that classes have to be dreary rote drills all the time, but it does mean that most learning happens in pretty ordinary ways. Maybe that will change once we all have chips implanted in our brains, but that day is not yet.

UPDATE: I changed the penultimate sentence slightly to remove the impression that nothing has changed since the days of togas and wax tablets.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

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It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

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