Find Your Passion? Experts Say the Advice May Lead Students Astray

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You might want to think twice before advising your students to find their passions.

Although the advice is well-intentioned, a new study suggests the guidance may encourage young people to close off their minds to other subjects.

Researchers from Stanford University (CA) and Yale NUS College in Singapore studied 470 undergraduate students in a series of five experiments. They found that those students who had a “fixed mind-set” about their interests were less willing to explore new topics.

In one experiment, for example, students were given an opportunity to learn more about black holes.

“Students were shown a video about black holes and the origin of the universe, which most found fascinating,” according to a recent Washington Post article about the study. “But when asked to read a denser scientific article on the same topic, the students with a fixed mind-set lost interest more quickly than those who believed interests can be cultivated.”

That’s a shame, especially in a world where career success increasingly depends on developing knowledge in areas outside of one’s specialty, according to researchers Carol Dweck and Paul O’Keefe.

“That’s what Steve Jobs was all about — he didn’t just make a computer; he made a computer that was a piece of art,” O’Keefe told The Post.

Read the full article.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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