Sunday, 20 July 2014

The growth mindset - Carol Dweck

In 2007 Carol Dweck published Mindset, in which she posited the idea that we have one of two ways of thinking about intelligence.

Fixed Mindset: Intelligence is a fixed trait

Growth Mindset: Intelligence is a malleable quality; a potential that can be developed

If we have a fixed mindset, we are inclined to believe that intellectual achievement should come naturally and that it is important for this intellectual capacity to be recognised and documented. Mistakes and failures are to be avoided, minimised or concealed because they are understood to speak about our fundamental capacity.

On the other hand, the growth mindset perceives that learning and achievement are attained through effort and that obstacles, challenges and failures along the way are all part of the learning process. The person with a growth mindset will confront their deficiencies, rather than dodge them.

Much of Dweck's work and its subsequent application has focussed on the importance of developing a growth mindset in young people as they grow and learn. There is much here for parents and teachers to consider; the language that we use to praise young people may do more harm than good. The simple rule is, praise the effort, not the ability.

In our professional learning during the mid-year break, our staff reflected on the application of the fixed/growth mindset framework to the work of professional development. If we have a fixed mindset, then we will be more likely to avoid challenge and risk in our professional practice, being concerned that failures may represent a judgment on our capacity. If we have a growth mindset, then we will expect that our professional learning and development will be hard work, that we will encounter obstacles, challenges and failures along the way - and that this is exactly what learning involves.

It was a great joy to me to see the teachers embrace the challenge of being learners in their use of technology, their adoption of the Project-Based Learning pedagogy and in rethinking their approaches to assessment.

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