The Social Animal by David Brooks

Several years ago I did some reporting on why so many kids drop out of high school, despite all rational incentives. That took me quickly to studies of early childhood and research on brain formation. Once I started poking around that realm, I found that people who study the mind are giving us an entirely new perspective on who we are and what it takes to flourish.

We’re used to a certain story of success, one that emphasizes getting good grades, getting the right job skills and making the right decisions. But these scientists were peering into the innermost mind and shedding light on the process one level down, in the realm of  emotions, intuitions, perceptions, genetic dispositions and unconscious longings.

I’ve spent several years with their work now, and it’s changed my perspective on everything. In this book, I try to take their various findings and weave them together into one story. This is not a science book. I don’t answer how the brain does things. I try to answer what it all means. I try to explain how these findings  about the deepest recesses of our minds should change the way we see ourselves, raise our kids, conduct business, teach, manage our relationships and practice politics. This story is based on scientific research, but it is really about emotion, character, virtue and love.

We’re not rational animals, or laboring animals; we’re social animals. We emerge out of relationships and live to penetrate each other’s souls.

Advertisements

Mindset by Carol S. Dweck

In this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education, staff reporter David Glenn has written an interesting piece considering the pioneering work—and controversial viewpoints—of psychologist, professor and author Carol Dweck. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) took note of this article and linked to it in their weekly INBOX e-newsletter, sent out today.

Dweck, currently a professor at Stanford University, is a leading expert on motivation and personality psychology.  Having done more than twenty years of research on mindset, she has come to form what many consider to be a contrarian view: by fostering the belief that intelligence is a fixed trait, and praising students for simply “being smart”, educators do a disservice not only to students but to society-at-large.

The article has sparked varied reactions among Chronicle readers.  In exchange for a free copy of Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, we’d like to get your point of view as well.  Simply read the Chronicle article and/or the book excerpt and post a thoughtful comment here.  Then email us for your free copy (please be sure to include your full school mailing address).