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There was a discussion in the teacher room last Friday that never really got resolved.

A teacher had called a student "smart" in a narrative in a written report.

Some said that was inappropriate since M.I. theory says people are smart in different ways

and it's more accurate to be more specific like "Pat is a strong analytical thinker."

Others thought that was hypersensitive and overcomplicating it, if you say "Pat is smart"

it's understood you are only talking about one side of the individual. Others did not have

a strong feeling about it one way or another. Wondering if anyone has perspective.

-- 
Matthew Frattali
teacher | learner | ms tech coordinator
The Lab School of Washington


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Hi Matt,

Ah, Carol Dweck would be quite adamant that "smart" never show up in an assessment or report card narrative. Using the word "smart" can feed what she calls a fixed mindset, meaning that if you are already smart then you are not going to change (i.e. get any smarter). This is in opposition to the growth mindset, which connotes that change is possible, so therefore applying oneself to the task at hand can have an impact.

 If you do a search for Carol Dweck you'll come up with plenty of videos and links. She wrote the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success to explain the two mindsets.

I would further add, as you note, that "smart" does not do anything to provide meaningful feedback. It is like saying "cool" when a student shares art work, rather than stating what it is that makes the art seem cool to you (i.e. I like the vibrant colors.)

Cheers,

Laurie

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