What are Mindsets?
Mindsets are like beliefs that people have about themselves and their intelligence, talents and personalities. People with a growth mindset understand that their basic intellectual ability can be developed through dedication and hard work. This contrasts with those with a fixed mindset who believe that that they are just given their intelligence which can’t be changed.
Who developed the idea of mindsets?
Psychologist Carol Dweck developed this theory after years of research into achievement and success. She and her team have evidence to prove that teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity.
Importance of understanding theory
When educating students about the growth mindset, it is not enough to simply say to students that they need to have a growth mindset. Research has shown that to understand growth mindset, people need to understand the science and theory behind this concept.
The brain is malleable and can get smarter and stronger. The scientific evidence proves this. Neuroscientists liken the brain to a muscle. Working on challenging things gives your brain the exercise to get stronger and is the best way to grow your brain.
Students need to understand that they can cultivate their mindset and to do this they must know some things about neuroplasticity; the ability of the brain to form and reorganise connections.
How neurons work
The brain is made of cells called neurons. These neurons are connected to thousands of other neurons through networks. When the neurons connect, signals are sent and everything that you do happens because of your neurons connecting. These networks change with certain experiences causing new connections to form or strengthen. People have the power to change how their neurons are wired together by doing things that they never thought that they could do. One way of doing this is to learn challenging things. This strengthens the brain by rewiring it and increasing the person’s intelligence.
Skills needed to cultivate a growth mindset.
- Recognise your (fixed mindset) thinking and use your inner voice to change your thinking (take ownership over your attitude)
- Try harder and try new strategies, this will strengthen the brain.
- Understand the magic of making mistakes
- Learn the power of yet. Instead of saying “I can’t do this”, say, “I can’t do this YET.”
- Set goals and take on new challenges with optimism
- Cultivate grit (be intrinsically motivated)
- Reward actions not traits
Sarah Mckays 8 tips for promoting a growth mindset in kids:
- Help children understand that the brain works like a muscle,that can only grow through hard work, determination, and lots and lots of practice.
- Don’t tell students they are smart, gifted, or talented,since this implies that they were born with the knowledge, and does not encourage effort and growth.
- Let children know when they demonstratea growth mindset.
- Praise the process.It’s effort, hard work, and practice that allow children to achieve their true potential.
- Don’t praise the results.Test scores and rigid ways of measuring learning and knowledge limit the growth that would otherwise be tapped.
- Embrace failures and missteps. Children sometimes learn the most when they fail. Let them know that mistakes are a big part of the learning process. There is nothing like the feeling of struggling through a very difficult problem, only to finally break through and solve it! The harder the problem, the more satisfying it is to find the solution.
- Encourage participation and collaborative group learning.Children learn best when they are immersed in a topic and allowed to discuss and advance with their peers.
- Encourage competency-based learning. Get kids excited about subject matter by explaining why it is important and how it will help them in the future. The goal should never be to get the ‘correct’ answer, but to understand the topic at a fundamental, deep level, and want to learn more.
Sarah Mckay PhD blog post
10 Minute Animation in which Carol Dweck explains praise and Growth Mindset
We teach Mindsets under the banner of the Persistence Character Strength.
Can you think of a time when you had a growth mindset?