Fixed mindset and growth mindset

 

A few weeks ago, Mrs Woolley spoke to parents about encouraging risk taking in their children, a presentation which was so well received that she had an encore the following week! I am so pleased that her talk resonated so deeply with a number of you and I know that many have made changes already with how you are developing risk taking skills in your children at home.

When we are looking at the teaching of learning skills in school, very often it is about changing and developing mindsets. Teaching pure knowledge and fact is incredibly easy in comparison to the teaching and coaching of changing behaviours and altering minds!

An interesting topic of debate in the world of education and parenting is looking at the formation of fixed mindsets in children and the creation of growth mindsets, how this influences the way that children think and consequently how it shapes and effects their lives. Their mindset to some extent comes from how we as parents and as teachers have helped formed and developed their way of thinking and behaving.

A child I came across a few years ago was a Year 6 boy who did not particularly enjoy Mathematics. He was actually quite good at it but interestingly would often not apply himself. His Dad would repeatedly tell him that it was alright that he didn’t like the subject and found it hard, because when he was a young lad at school, he didn’t like maths either and he also wasn’t very good at it. His son started to develop a fixed mindset with his approach to Mathematics because he realized that because his Dad didn’t like maths, it was therefore alright that he didn’t like it either. This meant that inevitably, he did not do as well as he could have done because he did not believe he needed to apply himself; Dad was alright and got through school, so he would be alright too!

A different example was a little girl in a school I taught at in London. She was constantly encouraged and told by her parents and the school that she would do well, that she was so clever, that she would go far and that she could be anything she wanted to be. And she did. And she was clever, and she went far; she went to Oxford. But then life became a little difficult and she suddenly didn’t do so well because suddenly she wasn’t so clever any more because the competition was so incredibly tough and there were so many more people who were better and more clever than she was.

Her fixed mindset was that she was clever, yet when it was challenged at Oxford it threw her and she was not equipped with the skills to embrace this new and exciting concept in her life. She thought she was clever because she was always told she was, but her situation amongst a peer group of students out performing her, unfortunately was telling her otherwise.

If we can just teach our children and encourage them that if they simply work hard, they will do well. Let us try to not label our children as

“gifted”

“just like me!”

“sporty”

“so dramatic…”

“just lazy”

and simply inspire them to work hard and apply enormous effort so that this channels a growth mindset in them. The way we teach here at Foremarke incites this approach. The feedback our teachers give the children encourages them to choose a challenge and increase achievement – not look for an easy way out. Sometimes just telling a child they are clever encourages a fixed mindset, whereas praising hard work and effort cultivates a growth mindset and when our children have a growth mindset, they take on challenges, make mistakes, learn from them and take more risks, thereby increasing their abilities, achievements and life skills.

And this is what makes a Foremarke child.