At West Kidlington, we teach our children that with a growth mindset, anything is possible. That means we encourage children to be resilient and to take on new challenges with enthusiasm. Rather than simply praising success we praise effort and persistence.
We believe the best thing to do is to teach children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning. For children who find work easy, we make sure they encounter more difficult tasks. Our children recognise that effort, persistence and good teaching are what help them improve.
The approach links with how we mark work and give feedback too. If children have fixed mindsets they find it hard to cope with failure: we teach our children to see mistakes and failure as positive. This makes for a very energetic and inclusive learning culture.
In 2000, Carol Dweck (a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University), was the first person to coin the terms ‘growth mindset’ and ‘fixed mindset’ after much research into motivation, personality and development. See below for Dweck’s definition of fixed and growth mindsets from a 2012 interview:
“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
Not there yet…
At West Kidlington, we have developed four growth mindset yetis (modelled on the yeti from the Pixar film Monsters Inc.). We hope that our yetis motivate the children at West Kidlington and encourage them to reflect on and develop the necessary growth mindset learning traits (or ‘learning powers’) to enable them to thrive as lifelong learners.
Meet our four yetis:
As you will now understand from the above definition by Carol Dweck, if a person has a growth mindset, they truly believe that if they can’t do something, they are ‘not there yet’ (hence the yetis!). If a child ever says, “I can’t do it!”, the response will be, “You can’t do response will be, “You can’t do it yet!”
As you walk around our school, you will see the above four yetis proudly displayed in every classroom and used to promote growth mindset learning. When children are finding an aspect of learning challenging, they are encouraged to consider which learning power will help them to overcome this difficulty.
How can you help your children to have a growth-mindset at home?
- Avoid generalisations and the language of a “fixed mindset” - eg “I’m a terrible cook…” “I was never good at maths.” - Instead, praise and value your child’s effort, practice, self-correction and persistence.
- Be curious about your child’s work through questioning - How did you figure that out? What’s another way you could have done that? How many times did you try before it turned out that way? What was challenging and how did you figure it out? What do you plan to do next time?
- Model having a growth-mindset at the table - At dinner, tell your children about a time when you didn’t know the answer to a recent question or you found something difficult. Who did you ask for help? How did you work through it?
At breakfast, ask questions about their opportunities for learning and growth in the coming day or week. What do they want to learn, practice, and/or get better at today/this week?