The Four Horsemen of Fixed Mindset

The outstanding teacher residency program where I coached teachers some years ago immersed the residents in the need for “growth mindset.”  Someone with a “growth mindset” believes that they can grow, that ability and intelligence can be developed.  Because of this belief, a person engages challenges and helpful criticism with sincere effort on a path to mastery.  

Its converse is “fixed mindset,” which believes that one’s traits are essentially fixed, and so effort is useless.  This mindset avoids challenges and truthful critique. It feels threatened when others thrive.

Fixed mindset is everywhere, in all of us, and quite tricky to talk about.  (No one wants to hear or acknowledge that they are stuck in such a narrative.)  So, the teaching program’s leadership wittily and decisively seared this concept into the minds of the residents by naming the “Four Horsemen of Fixed Mindset,” the four ways that this stunting mindset typically manifests.

They named the Four Horsemen as follows:

(1) You’re right. I suck.

(2) You’re wrong. I rule.

(3) Blame it on the rain.

(4) Optimist without a cause.

These conceptual hooks have been such a gift to me, that I wanted to share it with you.  I’ll write the next week’s posts about each of these manifestations.

Until then, here are the master teachers themselves acting out the Four Horsemen in the video they used to train the rookie teachers.  Enjoy… if you dare!