Mindset Training Is a Bust

“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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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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