It's my observation that, in the way that no good deeds go unpunished, no good ideas go un-ruined, especially in education. There seems to be a process wherein the greater degree of acceptance an idea receives, the more it loses its critical nuances, details that require more than the one- or two-sentence version that "goes viral," to comprehend. Sometimes this dumbing down renders the original idea useless, other times actually counterproductive.
We are seeing this process happening right now with Carol Dwek's brilliant insight into what she calls "Growth Mindset," or the frame of mind that allows one to view weaknesses as temporary and struggles necessary to improving them. The viral version is basically "If you believe you can do it, you can do it" or, alternately, "as long as you tried, you succeeded."
Many teachers are evidently seizing on these oversimplified versions, thinking they're doing their students a favor by focusing entirely on the messy, mistake-laden process while denying any significance to actually achieving successful results and/or they are teaching kids that belief guarantees success. Students are declaring that they have a growth mindset once they see it's expected of them (and in all areas of their lives, which is unrealistic), and many are learning to quickly move on to new challenges after failures because trying was defined for them as success.
Teaching these versions of growth mindset is malpractice.
If you are a parent or educator, do yourself a favor and refuse to accept that you are the master of any "difference-making" idea after hearing it explained in sixty seconds.
If you are interested in making a difference by promoting Growth Mindset, understand that it is a long process that requires many actions. Some are very subtle, for example training kids to add the word 'yet' every time they say they can't do something. Or refraining from calling kids smart when they succeed in favor of praising them as hard workers (because kids don't want to risk losing their 'smart' label once they've earned it). Consider having a Failure Fair, which is like a science fair where kids present projects about their failures and set up a system of evaluation that does not routinely punish risk-taking. Share the struggles overcome by successful people, both famous and familiar. Share your own. Make the struggles involved with learning visible whenever possible.
Be aware that good intentions are easy to undermine. For example, while you must celebrate and reward growth, you can't pretend reaching competency (at a minimum) isn't the actual goal. You must not pretend that true success has been achieved without reaching it. While you must praise effort, you must not act as if that is enough by itself.
There is no magic formula for inculcating Growth Mindset. Personal experience with sustained effort through multiple failures that lead to successes is the only way.
By David Michael Slater