You may have heard your children talking about how they've been in "the pit" at school! Above is the picture that is displayed in all classrooms throughout the school and is a visual aid for the children to describe their learning journeys throughout the day. We want the children to understand that it is okay to be stuck, and that some of their best learning is done when they find things the hardest. Rather than simply praising success we praise effort and persistence and celebrate those ‘fabulous struggles’.
We believe the best thing to do is to teach children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. For children who find work easy we make sure they encounter more difficult tasks. Our children recognise that effort, persistence and good teaching are what help them improve.
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:
· 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
· 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!
This approach links with how we mark work and give feedback too: we always mark giving ‘pink for think’ prompts in writing and in maths so that all learning for all children, even the very brightest, is seen as a way to grow. If children have fixed mindsets they find it hard to cope with failure: we teach our children to see mistakes and failure as positive. This makes for a very energetic and inclusive culture. It also has a really positive effect on our ethos and on how children approach learning and support each other. Children strive to improve their personal best rather than seeing coming top as the goal.
A quote from Carol Dweck:
"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.”
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 to not 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 speak to your child's class teacher.
Mindset in the classroom: Building a culture of Success and Student achievement in Schools. By Mary Cay Ricci
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
Mindset: Drive the Power of Habit from A Fixed Mindset to A Growth Mindset [Kindle Edition]
Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential by Dweck, Carol (2012)