Growth Mindset

Praising effort, promoting self-belief and providing the right environment for children to positively tackle challenges underpins good, effective teaching. In schools that are made up of classes with children that are mixed ability, have varying degrees of support from home and come from different socio-economic backgrounds, knowing how best to support every child to help develop or re-enforce a growth mindset can be tricky.

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What is a Growth Mindset?

Carol Dweck, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist, first published her influential research on Mindsets in 2006. In it, she suggests that success is not dependent on natural talent, but relies on an individual’s mindset: A child who believes that intelligence can be developed, and is not an innate ability, is more likely to be motivated, interested in learning, and willing to embrace challenges, even when confronting failure. Teachers and educational psychologists are turning to Dweck’s findings to develop in their students, perseverance, enthusiasm, and the inspiring realization that ability really does grow with effort.

 Key Strategies

  • Language: Children experience the world and understand themselves through the language they are exposed to at home, in school and among their peers. Understanding the messages conveyed when using certain phrases in the classroom is key to unlocking the potential for language to help develop growth mindsets.

  • Praise: Praise gives children confidence and reinforce their self-belief but can it be dangerous too? Dweck argues that praise should be used to encourage children to learn, but it should be used wisely. Praising effort rather than praising a child for getting the right answer will help engender a growth mindset.

  • Mistakes grow your brain: Taking the fear factor out of making mistakes is vital for encouraging children to attempt challenges. Science has revealed that even when making mistakes, your brain fires synapses that help you become smarter. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn.

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