“Why does failure inspire some and demoralize others?”

BoingBoing posts on Why does failure inspire some and demoralize others?, which links to this 2007 article on the work of Carol Dweck.

Dweck is looking at why some people – schoolchildren, students, sports stars (bizarrely, Blackburn Rovers, who probably need all the help they can get) – persevere and others don’t, and attributes some of the difference to study skills and learning skills. Culture and the mindset – the expectations of learners – play a large role: essential, how we deal with failure, and whether we label it as failure at all.

…capable students thought they lacked ability just because they’d hit a setback. Common sense suggests that ability inspires self-confidence. And it does for a while—so long as the going is easy. But setbacks change everything. Dweck realized—and, with colleague Elaine Elliott soon demonstrated—that the difference lay in the kids’ goals. “The mastery-oriented children are really hell-bent on learning something,” Dweck says, and “learning goals” inspire a different chain of thoughts and behaviors than “performance goals.”

I am reminded of a quotation by Thomas Edison, when he was trying to develop batteries: “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work“.


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