You may have heard your children talking about their ‘growth mindset’. At St Wilfrid’s, we know that pupils who have a positive attitude towards their learning will make good progress. Decades of research show a powerful relationship between mindset and achievement. Consequently, instilling all our pupils with 'growth mindsets' has become a key priority for the school since September 2017. We have introduced the theories of Dr Carol Dweck to staff and pupils and we are determined to embed these ideas within our school ethos.
We want our children to understand that it is okay to be stuck, and that some of their best learning is done when they find things difficult. Rather than simply praising success or completion, we praise effort and persistence.
We believe that the best thing to do is to teach children to relish challenges, embrace their mistakes as part of the learning process, value the importance of effort, respond carefully to feedback and to take inspiration from others. Helping children to develop these positive beliefs in their intelligence and learning will impact on their motivation, behaviours for learning and responses to challenges and setbacks. This will help them to achieve, not only with us, but also in their future lives as adults.
Central to this attitude and approach to learning, are the theories and proven evidence of Growth Mindset. This is a term coined by psychologist Carol Dweck and her research has identified the characteristics of learners with a fixed and a growth mindset:
This approach links with how we mark work and give feedback too: Our marking gives ‘prompts for improvement’ or ‘next steps’ so that all learning for all children, even the very brightest, is seen as a way to grow. 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 culture. It also has a really positive effect on our ethos and on how children approach learning and support each other.
A quote from Carol Dweck:
"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."
This is important because (1) individuals with a "growth" theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and (2) individuals' theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues. For example, children given praise such as "good job, you're very smart" are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if given compliments like "good job, you worked very hard" they are likely to develop a growth mindset. In other words, it is possible to encourage students, for example, to persist despite failure by encouraging them to think about learning in a certain way.”
The following video explains the concept in more detail:
How you can help at home
- Praise the amount of effort your child is putting into things rather than how clever they are;
- Talk to your children about their brain being like a muscle - the more they use it, the stronger it gets;
- Encourage your children to not give up if they are finding something difficult;
- Challenge your children to try something new or challenging.
Key aspects of growth mindset at St Wilfrid’s Primary School:
- We celebrate making mistakes – we can learn from them;
- We never give up – perseverance is the key if we are to succeed;
- We learn from each other;
- We don’t compare ourselves with others;
- We challenge ourselves and take risks;
- We remember that our brains are making new connections and growing all the time.
For further information on how to encourage confident and resilient learners at home, have a look at some of the links below.