Ciara McGuane is a former teacher and school leader who works with
www.rahoo.ie. Rahoo is a Department of Education Approved provider of professional development courses for teachers.
According to Carole Dweck, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University students (and all people) have two types of mindset – fixed and growth.
As teachers, if we want to develop effective learners, we need to change mindsets by changing our classroom culture. For example, by letting students know that it’s okay to make mistakes, that we don’t know everything immediately and everyone has the potential to learn.
As parents, if we want to develop children who put good effort into
their tasks and challenges, we also need to change mindsets by reflecting on our own behaviour and language at home. For example, by letting children know that it’s okay to get things wrong and that we are not automatically ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at something – progress requires effort.
Do you recognise some of these beliefs in yourself?
- You think your intelligence is fixed and that this fixed ability leads to your success.
- You like to compete with others and do better than them. You want to prove you’re smart to those around you.
- If you fail you think it’s because you’re not smart enough, or you’re not smart in that type of work.
- You don’t like failing so you won’t take risks. Taking risks means you may fail. You like to avoid risks.
- When a task if difficult you may act helpless. You say ‘I can’t do it’ and give up.
- Given the choice of trying a difficult task or an easy task, you pick the easy one.
- If you do something wrong as a result of listening to others, you tend to blame them rather than admit you made the choice.
- You may think that you don’t control your own life, that your mistakes are the fault of outside situations and other people.
- You believe that your intelligence can grow as you learn, that you can always learn more and be more.
- You believe you have the ability to learn and improve.
- You believe that effort leads
- You’re willing to make mistakes, take on challenges, even when you may not succeed. Challenges are good, mistakes are OK.
- You learn from your mistakes. You’re not afraid of making mistakes.
- You persist; you like to learn new skills.
- You give yourself encouragement when you’re engaged in tasks.
- You get satisfaction from success when you’ve put the effort in to overcome a challenge.
As is clear from the points raised above, growth mindset is the clear responsibility and accountability you have over your life. By accepting failure as a stepping stone to success, Dweck argues that people are happier and more open to learning.
However, Dweck says,
“Believing that your qualities are carved in stone creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character, well then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.”
This creates an insecurity where the motivation is to ‘not look stupid’ as opposed to learn, grow and flourish.
As parents, it is important that we understand the impact these mindsets can have on children and how we can encourage them to adopt a growth mindset.
Rahoo is a Department of Education Approved provider of professional development courses for teachers.