23 June 2024
Disadvantaged children's struggles at school have 'little to do' with character

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New research refutes the notion that disadvantaged students’ academic challenges stem from deficient character or attitude, revealing that the educational gap is not linked to a ‘growth mindset’ disparity with affluent students.

Well, hey there, folks! Let’s talk about something that’s been buzzing in the education world. You’ve probably heard people saying that if kids just buckle down, work hard, and believe in themselves, they can overcome any obstacle. It sounds pretty inspiring, right? But hold on to your hats, because a new study’s come out, and it’s turning that idea on its head!


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So, these researchers from some pretty fancy universities took a gander at a whole lot of data—like, over 240,000 fifteen-year-olds from 74 countries. That’s a lot of science fair projects! They were curious about whether the whole “grit” and “growth mindset” thing really made a difference for kids who don’t have all the advantages.


Now, before we dive in, let’s remember that having a positive attitude and being determined are great qualities. They can help you in all kinds of ways, like sticking with a tough experiment until you figure it out. But here’s the kicker: according to this study, those qualities are not the main reason some kids have a tougher time in school than others.


It turns out that all the character, attitude, and mindset in the world can’t fully make up for the big differences that come from, well, not having enough resources. We’re talking about things like schools with enough books for everyone, safe places to study, and extra help if you need it. This research is saying that those things matter—a lot.


The study even goes as far as to say that if we magically gave all the disadvantaged kids the same social and emotional skills as their wealthier classmates, the gap in their school performance would only close by, at most, 9%. That’s not even a tenth! And here’s something to chew on: maybe it’s not that having a “bad” attitude makes kids struggle in school. It could be the other way around—struggling in school might be what’s bringing their attitude down.


So, what’s all this mean? It’s like when you’re trying to grow plants in the classroom. You can talk to them and encourage them all you want, but if they’re not getting enough sunlight or water, they’re not going to thrive. That’s what these researchers are getting at. Kids need the right environment to flourish, and that includes things like good schools, support from early on, and chances to learn outside of the classroom.


In a nutshell, this study is a big old reminder that if we really want to help every kid reach their potential, we’ve got to look at the bigger picture. We need to make sure all students have what they need to succeed, not just a pep talk. And that’s something worth thinking about, whether you’re a student, a parent, or just someone who cares about making sure every young mind gets a fair shot. Keep on learning, folks, and let’s make sure we’re setting up everyone for success!

SOURCE: Disadvantaged children’s struggles at school have ‘little to do’ with character, attitude or a lack of ‘growth mindset’



1. What is the “grit” and “growth mindset” concept?

The “grit” and “growth mindset” concept refers to the belief that if individuals work hard, have a positive attitude, and believe in their ability to overcome challenges, they can succeed.

2. What did the study examine?

The study examined data from over 240,000 fifteen-year-olds from 74 countries to determine if the “grit” and “growth mindset” concept had a significant impact on the academic performance of disadvantaged students.

3. What did the study find?

The study found that while having a positive attitude and determination are beneficial qualities, they cannot fully compensate for the disadvantages faced by students who lack resources such as sufficient books, safe study environments, and extra support.

4. How much would the academic performance gap close if disadvantaged students had the same social and emotional skills as their wealthier classmates?

The study suggests that even if disadvantaged students had the same social and emotional skills as their wealthier counterparts, the gap in their school performance would at most close by 9%.

5. What is the implication of the study?

The study highlights the importance of providing a supportive and resourceful environment for all students to succeed academically. It suggests that simply promoting a positive attitude may not be enough and that addressing the broader factors contributing to educational disparities is crucial.

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: growth mindset, educational inequality, academic performance

A mindset is an established set of attitudes of a person or group concerning culture, values, philosophy, frame of mind, outlook, and disposition. It may also arise from a person's worldview or beliefs about the meaning of life. Some scholars claim that people can have multiple types of mindsets. Some...
Read more: Mindset

Educational inequality
Educational inequality is the unequal distribution of academic resources, including but not limited to school funding, qualified and experienced teachers, books, and technologies, to socially excluded communities. These communities tend to be historically disadvantaged and oppressed. Individuals belonging to these marginalized groups are often denied access to schools with adequate...
Read more: Educational inequality

Academic achievement
Academic achievement or academic performance is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has attained their short or long-term educational goals. Completion of educational benchmarks such as secondary school diplomas and bachelor's degrees represent academic achievement. Academic achievement is commonly measured through examinations or continuous assessments but there...
Read more: Academic achievement

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