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Helping Students to Develop a Growth Mindset

29/06/15

Casey explains to us a fixed mindset versus growth mindset and what we can do to help develop the growth mindset of our students. 

According to American inventor and businessman, Thomas Alva Edison, ‘success is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration’.

As a teacher with a number of years experience in supporting students in achieving their academic and personal goals, I have witnessed time and time again the divide between the students who know that hard work equals success, and the students with a pre-determined belief that they will never move beyond mediocrity.

Therefore, I thought it would be helpful to share my insights and thoughts in relation to the notion of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset in our students.

In a fixed mindset, people (and in our case, students) believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talents instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success – without effort. They’re wrong!

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

I believe that as teachers and educators, one of our key roles is to assist students in believing that they are capable of anything. When a student claims, ‘I suck at maths’, they are exhibiting a fixed mindset and if we can identify and intercept these thought processes, we can help them to overcome their self-enforced limitations. A more positive minded statement from this same student might be, 'I have to work hard at maths, but when I put in lots of effort, I can achieve’. Teacher actions such as modelling key behaviours, providing positive reinforcement, challenging students’ ideas, and providing differentiated work to allow all students to experience success, are all crucial to the successful implementation of this strategy.

So, the next time a student tells you that they are bad at spelling, or can’t do algebra, or that they can’t be bothered studying for a test because they’ll just do badly anyway, pull them up and challenge them to develop a growth mindset instead!

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