Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Giving Your Pupils a Mindset Growth Spurt

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Giving Your Pupils a Mindset Growth Spurt

Article excerpt

Carol Dweck's influential theory is beloved of education experts around the world. But how can you apply it in your classroom?

When I read the book Mindset by Carol Dweck, I kept turning the page hoping that she might start to tell me how to "do it" in the classroom. But it didn't happen. Dweck (pictured, right) offered some excellently argued theory, but how that translated to teaching was anyone's guess.

In a way, this is liberating. It enables teachers to take the theory and adapt it. But few of us have time for that. What we need are strategies that we can build on. So here are five that I have developed with my primary classes.

Explain 'growth' and 'fixed' mindsets

Children need to understand what is meant by these terms. The theory is not rocket science, but pupils need to know what it is and how it relates to the classroom. You can explain it however you feel works best: role play can be useful, for example. But a common mistake is for teachers to discuss only the growth mindset. If we want children to really embrace the theory, they need to recognise when they are adopting a fixed mindset, too.

A quick recap on those definitions:

l Fixed mindset is where students think their skills and intelligence are fixed and the product of talent. They don't try to develop them, as they believe this is not possible.

l Growth mindset is where students think their skills and intelligence can be developed through hard work. They believe in possibilities and are willing to work to improve.

Define the values and reward examples

Children should consider what values a school needs to have in order to inspire a growth mindset. Values that you should encourage students to aspire to include:

l Making an effort in learning is important.

l Making mistakes is helpful and not something to be ashamed of.

l Feedback, including criticism from others, is important.

Make these values visible with posters and ensure that you reward students when they demonstrate them. In my classroom, we applaud mistakes and discuss what we have learned from them. We also award a cuddly brain cell to the child who has shown the best growth mindset behaviours during the week. …

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