Changing from a fixed to a growth mindset is not simple and does not put the onus on our students. We cannot expect our students to automatically have such a mindset just because they are told to adopt a more positive attitude. Instead, we need to take a closer look at our curriculum to determine whether it is adapted for such a mindset or not. Are we still asking our students to cram information without actually understanding it or are we providing different opportunities for our students to learn from their mistakes? In short, to develop a growth mindset culture, we need to improve the quality of our teaching and our education system by becoming a model for it, that is, experience growth mindset ourselves to truly create such a culture in our classrooms Every once in a while certain buzzwords rock the education system such as ‘blended-learning', ‘grit', ‘flipped classrooms', ‘differentiated learning', to name a few. Growth mindset, coined by Dr Dweck, a pioneering researcher and professor at Stanford University and author of a very successful book called Mindset, is one such buzzword taking both the education system and businesses by storm. So what is growth mindset and why is it important for education?
A growth mindset is the belief that through hard work and effort, intelligence can be gained and talents developed. Success for these people is bound to learning especially from mistakes, consistently applying themselves, and not giving up. Through research, Dweck found that if the students believed that their brains could grow, they behaved differently, such as increased motivation and achievement. Such students, when praised for their effort, would pick activities that would increasingly challenge them and allow new learning abilities to get created. For example, comments by the teacher referring to intelligence, "Well done! You're so smart" negatively impact students with such a mindset, that is they fail to challenge themselves and have shown to pick activities that reinforce such attitudes instead of activities that challenge them and call into question their talent thereby limiting their growth potential. A growth mindset sees failure as a learning opportunity and not a lack of intelligence. This mindset allows for growth and development due to the passion created for learning which is necessary to have if we want our students to become life-long learners.
Alternatively, a fixed mindset is having the underlying belief that intelligence, creative ability, and talent are natural gifts. You either have it, or you don't. Fixed mindset is not limited to education; in fact, it affects behaviour, capacity for happiness, and relationship with success and failure. Students with such a mindset will be worried about keeping up appearances of seeming to be intelligent, success to them means intelligence and failure, deficient. With this mindset, there is an urgency to prove oneself repeatedly which is also affected by the feedback provided.