I just listened to this fascinating NPR Story that tells how different cultures, broadly speaking, conceptualize the act of struggling differently. These different conceptualizations can have profound impacts on how we behave when faced with challenges, which can in turn affect our ability to learn.
Psychologist Jim Stigler, when he was a graduate student, was sitting in on a 4th grade math class in Japan when he saw something that profoundly affected the course of his research. He discovered that there are big differences between how the East and West conceptualize the struggle to learn.
This is just a generalization, since one can always find counterexamples in any given culture, but the gist of the difference is that Westerners believe that success in school is due to innate intelligence, or talent, whereas Easterners believe success is tied to how willing one is to work and struggle to achieve.
In other words, Westerners are more likely to adopt a fixed mindset, whereas Easterners are more likely to adopt a growth mindset and espouse the virtues of grit and deliberate practice, topics I’ve written about before.
This is truly a fascinating story – please listen to it and let me know what you think by commenting on this post.