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Topic: Carol Dweck, Yidan Prize winner, urges against cramming culture
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Carol Dweck, Yidan Prize winner, urges against cramming culture
Posted: Dec 21, 2017 4:04 PM
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From South China Morning Post, Monday, December 18, 2017. SEE
Yidan Prize winner Carol Dweck urges against cramming culture of the
kind Hong Kong has become known for

Stanford professor in the city to receive world's biggest education
prize, as government mulls continuation of exam derided as
encouraging high-pressure rote learning

By Peace Chiu

Children's learning should be joyful and focused on understanding and
inquiry - rather than the drilling that Hong Kong schools have become
known for - a renowned psychologist, recently in the city to receive
the world's biggest education prize, has said.

Professor Carol Dweck's remarks come as the city's government
prepares to announce whether a standard test often associated with
high-pressure rote learning will continue next year.

Dweck, from Stanford University in the US, was in Hong Kong last week
to collect the inaugural Yidan Prize for Education Research, for her
groundbreaking research on the power of the "growth mindset", based
on the belief that intelligence is not fixed and can be developed
over time, given the right approach.

The prize was started in 2016 by Charles Chen Yidan, co-founder of
mainland tech giant Tencent. It comprises one award for education
research and another for education development. Each laureate
receives a gold medal and HK$30 million (US$3.9 million).

Dweck, 71, said her research, which goes back about 40 years, was
prompted by her interest in why only some children fulfil their
SIDEBAR VIDEO: Watch: The Hong Kong school promoting alternative learning
She said her interest stemmed from a much earlier experience when she
was in sixth grade, with a teacher seating her class according to
their IQs, despite it being the cleverest class in the school, by IQ.

"Once she did that, no one cared about learning any more, just about
not making a mistake; not losing your seat," she said.

After years of research, Dweck - whose findings have been implemented
in countries such as the US, Norway and Peru - found that children
with a "fixed mindset" would worry whether they were smart and would
succeed in life and stop caring about learning. Those with a "growth
mindset", she found, could joyfully learn and develop their abilities.

But Dweck noted that the concept was not about telling children to
work hard, which is common in Hong Kong, where many parents view
academic success as paramount to their children's future.

"Chinese culture is already telling children to work hard. That's not
growth mindset because they're working hard for the product, not for
the growth or the joy of learning," she said.

[Some teachers and parents have called for the TSA to be scrapped,
because of the pressure it puts on pupils. Photo: Xiaomei Chen]

The professor also warned against "tiger parenting" - referring to
demanding parents, particularly in Asian cultures, pushing their
children to attain high grades using methods such as relentless

She said these students could be extremely anxious, and feel
worthless and depressed if they did not succeed at something.

She said the "growth mindset" should instead be about focusing on
understanding, questioning and thinking, and results would follow
after that.

The Hong Kong government is expected to announce in the next two
months whether the Primary Three Territory-wide System Assessment
will continue next year. Originally designed to enhance learning and
teaching by providing the government with data to review policies,
the assessment has become associated with a drilling culture in Hong

This has led parents and educators to call for the test to be
scrapped, ending the pressure it puts on pupils, and for the
curriculum to be reviewed as a whole. The government recently began a
review of primary and secondary school curriculums.

With some educators not knowing how to truly implement the "growth
mindset" or some applying it incorrectly, Dweck and her team are
working on developing a curriculum based on the approach. She said
she would spend part of her prize money on that.

She said it could focus more on collaborative problem-solving,
understanding, giving children time to revise and using grades that
recognise improvement, rather than just performance.
Jerry P. Becker
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education and Human Services
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
625 Wham Drive / MC 4610
Carbondale, Illinois 62901

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