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The “Not There Yet” Mindset and the “Failure” Mindset



The“Not There Yet”Grade – The Actual Representation of the “Fail” Grade

I was listening to a TED talk some time ago by Professor Carol Dweck where she gave an instance of a high school in Chicago, USA where in order for students to graduate, they had to pass a certain number of courses and if they didn’t pass a course, they got the grade, “Not Yet”.

Now try picturing your report card in secondary school and the pasted results on the departmental notice boards in the university.

Envisage all the “Fail” grades or “F’s” as “Not There Yet” grades.

As weird as the picture may seem considering the fact that as of yet, there are no such schools in Nigeria where such grades are apportioned to students, you should notice the difference.

When you get a failing grade and see an “F” on your result sheet, the thoughts that cross your mind are such thoughts as; “I’m nothing”, “I’m a failure”.

If instead you get a “Not Yet” or “Not There Yet” grade, in Professor Dweck’s words, “you understand that you’re on a learning curve; it gives you a path into the future.”

The truth of the matter is that the “Not There Yet” grade is a better and more factual representation of your academic performance.

Notice how students with the “Not There Yet” mindset cope with and react to challenge and difficulty.

When given difficult challenges to tackle, they respond in amazingly positive ways to them.

They understand that abilities can be developed, that’s why they always love a challenge or seemly difficult problem.

Professor Dweck also calls it “the growth mindset”.

Students with the “Failure” mindset whose intelligence had been up for judgment during exams or assessments and they failed on the other hand respond rather differently.

They run from the challenge in many different ways.

Some cheat the next time if they failed the test assessment.

Others look for others that performed worse than themselves so that they can feel really good about themselves.

Professor Dweck also calls this other mindset “the fixed mindset”.

The student with the growth mindset will process the error or mistake, learn from it and correct it whereas the other student with the fixed mindset will run away and look for quick fixes such as ‘sorting’ (common in our Nigerian institutions – a situation where a student pays a corrupt lecturer to upgrade his/her scores), cheating or consoling him/herself with the predicaments of others that did more poorly.

How to Develop the “Not There Yet” Mindset for Academic Improvement

When you fail a subject or course, don’t let that grade define you.

The “F” grade is a malady of our educational systems today which misrepresents the true state of a student who got below the pass mark in an examination or assessment.

Until that is corrected in our educational system, you need to remind yourself that when you get an ‘F’ grade in a subject or course; you have simply not gotten there yet.

You have not failed a subject or course yet even if you are apportioned an ‘F’ grade until you refuse to pick yourself up, learn from your previous errors and try again.

Professor Dweck identifies the two sides of the coin to be the power of yet and the tyranny of now.

  • Don’t be gripped by the tyranny of now – what your abilities are now, rather be enabled and strengthened by the power of yet – what your abilities can yet become.

  • Realize that abilities can indeed be improved and that that’s the reason for challenges and difficulties – to develop and improve your abilities.

  • Redefine how you perceive effort and difficulty which should not make you feel dumb or feel like giving up but should be seen as keys that open the door to improvement.

  • Embrace challenges with the power of yet knowing that your abilities are capable of so much growth and development.

Trust me, you’re one of the smartest beings living, you just are yet to develop and harness the full potential of your abilities.

Share This With Friends and Kill the Failure Syndrome.

Courtesy: Nigerian Scholars

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