As I reflect back on the past year at Mountain Valley School, I think about the decisions that went well, others that didn’t work out, and some that still need refinement and iteration. During my career as an educator, I have always taken risks and experimented with innovative ideas while moving towards improvement. I can honestly say that I’ve learned a lot about what doesn’t work because I am not afraid to try new things. I approach each day with a growth mindset, an opportunity to learn and become a better husband, father, and school leader.
Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, has studied, researched and written extensively about the growth mindset. Dweck found that students’ mindsets, or how they perceived their own abilities, was a critical factor in motivation and achievement when faced with a new or difficult task. She also found that student mindsets could be changed from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, which had a significant impact on achievement.
So what is the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset? The belief that intelligence can be developed and increased is called a growth mindset. Conversely, a fixed mindset follows the belief that intelligence is fixed and cannot be improved. Dweck found that students who possessed a growth mindset outperformed those with fixed mindsets. Research has shown that, with classroom modeling and structure, students can “grow their brains” while increasing their intellectual abilities. A growth mindset can be fostered when the classroom culture values hard work, risk-taking, experimentation, and learning from failures. When students face difficult problems, instead of giving up, they should try new strategies and seek advice from others, keeping in mind that intelligence is developed through perseverance.
Parents can also foster a growth mindset for themselves and their children. When faced struggles, challenges, and setbacks during learning experiences, it is important to avoid false praise or negative comments. Instead, tenacity, alternate strategies, and learning from mistakes should be encouraged. Before you know it, learning will become more enjoyable as fixed mindsets are replaced with growth mindsets.
How has a growth mindset helped you grow your brain?