Growth Mindset

You may have heard our children talking recently about how they’ve been developing a ‘growth mindset’ at school. Every class has been looking at and learning about the two types of mindsets that children and adults can have; a ‘fixed’ mindset and a ‘growth’ mindset.

Below is an overview of the traits of each:

Fixed Mindset

  • I like my work to be easy
  • I don’t like to try a challenge
  • I want people to praise me for how clever I am
  • I believe I cannot change how clever I am
  • I don’t like to try new things because I won’t be very good at it
  • I give up easily

Growth Mindset

  • I never give up
  • I like my work to be difficult – it means I am learning
  • I love challenges
  • I want people to praise me for the effort I put into my work
  • I believe I can get more intelligent by working hard
  • I feel clever when I’m learning something new
  • I learn from my mistakes

It has been proven that having a growth mindset can improve children’s progress and attainment. As a result, we are teaching our children that by having a growth mindset they can grow their brains and intelligence and achieve anything they want!

How you can help at home

  • Praise the amount of effort your child is putting into things rather than how clever they are;
  • Talk to your children about their brain being like a muscle – the more they use it, the stronger it gets;
  • Encourage your children not to give up if they are finding something difficult;
  • Challenge your children to try something new or challenging.

If you would like more information on growth mindsets, please see Mr Aylett.

Three steps to promoting a growth mindset

Define the values and reward examples Children should consider what values a school needs to have in order to inspire a growth mindset. Values that you should encourage students to aspire to include:

  • Making an effort in learning is important.
  • Making mistakes is helpful and not something of which to be ashamed.
  • Feedback, including criticism from others, is important.

Make these values visible with posters and ensure that you reward students when they demonstrate them.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes Develop a shared understanding of what it is to be “stuck”. We often assume that children can deal with feeling stuck when it happens, but not all of them can and they will suffer in silence. This can start to turn them off learning and lead them to think about giving up. If children understand that we all get stuck at different times on different things, they will feel less alone and less “stupid”.

Prove that you can “grow your brain” Teach pupils about the brain. In our school, we had an information afternoon and made “brain hats”. If the seeds of different mindsets come from differing beliefs about the brain, it is important to show children that what you are suggesting about growth is true. Prove it to them with age-appropriate neuroscience.

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”

This is important because (1) individuals with a “growth” theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and (2) individuals’ theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues. For example, children given praise such as “good job, you’re very smart” are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if given compliments like “good job, you worked very hard” they are likely to develop a growth mindset. In other words, it is possible to encourage students, for example, to persist despite failure by encouraging them to think about learning in a certain way.”

Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, California