“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.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate