Dear Barrows Community,
Have you ever said the following to your child while helping them with schoolwork; “I was never good at math either,” “I’m really shy and hate public speaking too,” or “You got that from me, I have awful handwriting”? I want to challenge you to think of another way.
What does it mean to have a “Growth Mindset?” Carol Dweck’s research defines Fixed Mindset as a belief that their intelligence is a trait they are born with, that they only have a certain amount of intelligence and that’s it. Those that believe in a Growth Mindset believe that they can grow and develop their intelligence and abilities over time (Dweck, 2006.)
Students with a Fixed Mindset believe if they are smart, then learning should come easy and they will tend to avoid more challenging topics or tasks from fear of failure or appearing ‘not smart.’ If the emphasis is on finding the right answer rather than the learning process, the Fixed Mindset student will give up if they encounter difficulty. A person with Growth Mindset sees challenges as opportunities to problem solve, think creatively, apply novel solutions, and persist through difficulties.
What can we do about this?
· Encourage students for their effort rather than their achievement (“Wow, I can tell you really worked hard to find that answer” rather than “Wow, you got the right answer, you must be really smart.”)
· Allow children to see us as adults learning new things and verbalize how we work through the difficulties of new challenges (and the feelings of success when we grow!)
· Encourage your children to take opportunities to learn outside their comfort zone (new hobby, sport, new environment, challenging homework/project, etc.) and talk with them about their new learning and celebrate growth
· Throw the old saying out the window; “Practice Makes Perfect.” Instead, adopt the new idea that I have seen posted in many Barrows classrooms; “Practice Makes Better.”
Heather Leonard, Principal
Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset, The new psychology of success. New York. Ballantine Books