Growth Mindset Revisited

The Growth mindset, the research on it and the book that came out of that research is unusual for academic research in the education field in that it found its way very much in to the public domain. This brought it to the attention of a lot of teachers worldwide, as well as parents and others interested in how children can learn most effectively.

I’ve written a few times in the past about the book, the concept of growth and Fixed Mindsets and the work of Dr carol Dweck. So, I was especially pleased to come across this recent article in which she revisits the concepts, flags up a couple of the myths that have grown up around it and refocuses attention where she believes it should be:

Education Week – Carol Dweck Revisits the Growth Mindset

To me there were a few interesting and informative ‘take aways’ from the article;

a) Growth Mindset isn’t just about effort. Mistakes have certainly been made where it’s simply been equated to grit, perseverance and simple effort. Rather, the ideas can be more equated from the concept i learned many years ago from the field of NLP – namely, the person with more tools and versatility has the greater chance of arriving at the best solutions to a challenge. So, effort and resilience need to be accompanied by flexibility and creativity to try different alternatives. We are not out to reward the stubborn mule who keeps trying to bash away with the same wrong solution to a problem in the hope that eventually the nature of the problem will change to match their solution!

b) Like most things in education, we’re not dealing with a simple binary equation, or a new way of putting labels on children. it serves little purpose to start labelling children as either a growth or fixed mindset student. Nobody is ever all of one or the other.

c) When management/ leaders in schools start to say they want growth mindset in teachers (as well as pupils) we shouldn’t be surprised when we get outbreaks of false or pseudo-growth mindset. As in b) above, if that’s what my Principal wants, then I know how to adopt the language, the nomenclature etc. to claim that I fit the bill (especially if it figures in assessments!)

Whether with teachers or pupils we’re dealing with complex human beings with enormous varieties of shades of grey within the individual. We always do a disservice when we grab hold of a new idea and seek to apply it in brutalist and simplistic ways. Let’s instead embrace human complexity.

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