A 'growth' mindset (Dwek 2000) is a concept for the way learners need to feel about themselves and their abilities to become successful learners. It is based on the idea that learning is developmental and that we are not born 'clever' or 'not clever' but rather we all have the capacity to become better at things.
The characteristics of the fixed and growth mindsets according to Dwek are:
Fixed Mindset (Performance)
'I must look clever!'
Growth Mindset (Learning)
'I want to learn more.'
|Avoids challenges||Embraces challenges|
|Gives up easily||Persists in the face of setbacks|
|Sees effort as pointless||Sees effort as the way|
|Ignores useful criticism||Learns from criticism|
The likely result for a child with a 'Fixed mindset' is that they will plateau early and are likely to achieve less than their potential. On the other hand, a child with a 'Growth mindset' is likely to reach increasingly higher levels of achievement.
At Abbeywood we have been developing a culture of 'Growth mindset' over the past year and it is exciting to see how the staff and children are using this idea to improve the learning capacity of all the learners in the school.
We have worked hard on the way we respond to each other and praise the children; for example we try not to praise the fact that a child has got something correct or they have finished a piece of work, but rather for the effort they have put into it or the improvement that they have made. "Every time you practise, you're making the connections in your brain stronger."
We firmly believe that everything is possible and we celebrate not being able to do something YET.
We also celebrate mistakes because, as Albert Einstein once said, "Any one who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."
Mistakes are a huge learning resource for ourselves and others and we should share them, learn from them and not worry that we did not 'get it right' first time. If you could already do something or it was easy , then you wouldn't be learning anything.
A child demonstrated his growth mindset recently when he said, " My best learning is when I get something wrong, I go and have a rethink or try something different and then I get it right!"
Our next step is to develop ways of embedding the concept further by focusing on the personalization of effort.