In this Scientific American article, Carol S. Dweck reports that “more than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort—not on intelligence or ability—is the key to success in shcool and in life.” Of course, effort requires time and so I think we are forced to look at the ways that our societies structurally create time for some groups of people (usually the dominant groups—white men in the U.S.) to focus effort on their school work, jobs, and other measures of “success.” Class issues also come into play because of the way that more money usually translates to more time to concentrate your efforts. Add this to the other benefits of being in the dominant groups in your society and it’s not hard to understand, yet again, how dominant groups remain dominant. Every system is exquisitely designed to reproduce itself.
This article also made me think again about the debate between some teachers in the blogosphere have had concerning whether or not to give homework. If effort and discipline is what makes the real difference in student success, then I believe the balance is tipped toward giving regular homework. Of course, I leaned heavily that way to begin with, so I’m probably not the best judge of the implications of this article’s findings for that debate.