All the children were born with their individual uniqueness. Although some children can be genetically smarter than the others, the mind-sets play important roles to make them successful in academic and in life. Mind-set is an idea discovered by Carol S. Dweck in decades of research on why people succeed and how to foster success. She is a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and author of the article “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids”. In her article, she argues that changing our beliefs can have a powerful impact. Success in life is all about the beliefs that our abilities and intelligence can be developed with effort, learning, persistence and how we deal with failure. Her main purpose of this article is to convince teachers and parents to raise their students and children by emphasizing the effort over ability and intelligence. To build a strong persuasive argument, it is clear that Dweck uses rhetorical strategies −ethos, pathos, and logos− to convince teachers and parents of her argument.
The first appeal Dweck uses in this article is ethos. Ethos is the way to convince the readers that the author is reliable and credible for making his/her argument. Dweck uses ethos by highlighting herself that she is Lewis and Virginia Eaton professor of psychology at Stanford University who published the book “Mind-set” in 2006 (Dweck 41). Clearly, Dweck appeals to the readers that she is a credible person to write about this mind-sets topic. The readers might be convinced that she is a Ph.D. holder in psychology and her argument and words might be true. Dweck also uses her own studies to prove that she is a credible person to write about this topic and her argument is reliable and can be trusted. For example, Dweck argues, “our studies show that teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, helps make them into high achievers in school and in life” (38). In the view of the readers, Dweck has done the studies about how developing a growth mind-set is important for children to success in academic and in life; therefore, she is a credible writer. Her experience about children’s success makes the readers think that her argument and her words can be trusted. It is clear that Dweck uses ethos to appeal the readers’ perception of trustworthiness.
In addition, Dweck applies logical appeal, logos, to persuade the readers. Logos is a way to persuade the readers using facts, statistics and examples. In this article, Dweck uses logos many times by showing other statistical studies to support her argument. One of the example of logos is “Parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in children by … teaching them about the brain as a learning machine” (Dweck 38). Dweck states that a way to motivate students about how the brain becomes powerful the more it is used by comparing how the brain and learning machine are alike. She uses a learning machine as an analogy for the brain development. This way the readers can relate and understand how they can teach their children and students to motivate using this analogy. Another example is when Dweck states, “In a 2002 study Aronson, Good … and their colleagues found that college students began to enjoy their schoolwork more, … and get better grades as a result of training that fostered a growth mind-set” (43). By showing this statistical studies, she justifies that her argument is a true fact. She convinces that reader that her argument is logical and relevant to the truth because it is backed by this studies. Clearly, she uses logos to appeal to the readers that her argument trustworthy.
Finally, Dweck appeals to the readers’ emotions by using pathos. Pathos is a way to draw the readers emotionally. Emotion is the key in our life. Emotions that we feel can influence our opinion. Dweck employs some figurative languages to make her argument more relevant. For example, Dweck writes, “students read and discussed an article entitled “You Can Grow Your Brain.” They were taught that the brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with use… One particular unruly boy looked up during the discussion and said, “You mean I don’t have to be dumb?” (42). Clearly, Dweck uses pathos by providing complete picture of how disobedient student becomes motivated and energized by the idea that that the growth of his brain is in his hands which result in positive changes. She creates word pictures for the readers to convince that her way of motivating the students and boosting their confidence is effective. Another example of how Dweck makes use of pathos is when she claims, “many young athletes value talent more than hard work and have consequently become unteachable” (Dweck 43). She is again using pathos to persuade the readers that many young athletes become defensive and unable to be taught because they believe that they are talented based on her prejudgment. This appeals to the readers, especially those readers who are agree with Dweck’s argument, that emphasizing talents over hard work is not effective way to improve performance. This way Dweck applies pathos in her article to influence the reader’s opinion.
Ultimately, Dweck effectively utilizes each of the three rhetorical strategies −ethos, pathos, and logos− to engage and convince the readers of her argument. In the beginning of the article, she starts building her credibility by highlighting herself as a credible and knowledgeable person to write about this topic by using ethos. She not only uses logos several times by using statistical studies to support her argument, but she also employs pathos to influence the reader’s opinion throughout the article. Overall, this article makes the readers to realize the importance of developing a growth mind-set which focus on effort over ability. Dweck successfully applies three rhetorical appeals in her article to create a strong persuasive argument.
- Dweck, Carol S. “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids.” Scientific American Mind. pp.37-43. December 2007/January 2008.