Tuesday 1 March 2016

4 Growth Mindset Myths

1) Hard work, alone, produces talent. If you've got a Growth Mindset, you can become smarter/faster/better than the best.

In reality, sometimes nature trumps nurture when it comes to ability.  I demonstrated this to my class the day after I went to watch England play Australia in the netball.  They know I play netball some weekday evenings and often ask me what the score was.  After I watched the international series match, we discussed as a class how I could get better at netball.  The pupils said how I could practise, work hard and put in 100% effort.  We then talked about the England squad and how, no matter how hard I work and how much better I get at netball, I will never make the squad due to my height.  At 5 foot 2My growth mindset in netball can make me a better netballer but it won't make me an England netballer.  

2) Growth Mindset in primary schools is about putting up displays.

I hear of (and see on Twitter & Pinterest) many schools and teachers claiming they are "doing" growth mindset in their school by putting up lovely displays.  I have avoided having any displays to promote mindsets and attitudes; partly because I don't have enough display space for it and partly because I don't want that to be the only strategy which I implement.   Nurturing and encouraging positive mindsets is about the language we use, the attitudes we demonstrate and streamlining our praise.  

3) Growth Mindset means only giving constructive comments, not praising.

When I was first introduced to the idea of mindsets, this was my understanding.  It didn't take long for me to realise how wrong I was.  Instead, growth mindset comments are those which praise effort and attitude as well as providing constructive comments.  I try to use the following words in my feedback, written and verbal, as much as possible: effort, attitude, progress, hard work, focus.  Mostly, these words are used to praise children and their mindsets.  

4) You either have a Growth Mindset or a Fixed Mindset and a short questionnaire will tell you which one you have.

Some schools, when introducing the idea of a having a growth mindset, start with a quiz for children to take to determine whether they have a Growth Mindset or a Fixed Mindset.  This can become like a label for that child. “Charlie won’t get it...he’s fixed mindset”.  There are two reasons why this is wrong - firstly, the labelling of children via a quiz takes me back to the learning styles era! Secondly, you can have a growth mindset about one subject, skill or activity and a fixed mindset about another. For example, as a kid I always used to love a challenge in maths.  It wasn’t about getting it right for me, it was about the process to get there. I loved writing pages and pages of algebra as I went through secondary school but I professed deeply that I hated art and couldn’t draw.  I would have a go...ONE go and that would be it.  Same with P.E. and running. I would choose to walk a race because I knew I wasn’t going to do well and would rather be seen to be an "opter-outer" than a "have-a-goer"!  I’ve recently taken up netball, stoolball and running and have really had to utilise all this growth mindset stuff but, once I did, I found I enjoyed it.  Art is how I really demonstrate Growth Mindset to my class. I talk through my thoughts and feelings.  You will recognise this in children in your class.  The children with a fixed mindset in a lesson will be quite obvious - the ones who copy or cheat, give up and those smart children who get upset when they get one answer/activity wrong.  Be careful not to label them as “fixed mindset” but keep in mind that, for that subject, some failure and guidance around it, is going to help transform their mindset.

I feel this short clip from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix really demonstrates Growth Mindset and it's power as well as dispelling (excuse the pun!) some of the myths mentioned above. As you watch it, focus in particular on Harry's comments and Neville's mindset.

1 comment:

  1. A really good article that I find myself agreeing with, particularly the displays. I often wonder how that develops a mindset. I saw the quote today and think it sums up the idea : “It always seems impossible until it's done.” Nelson Mandela Those that keep going even though it seem's impossible have a growth mindset


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