Growth mindset is a buzz word in education circles these days. The theory behind mindset was founded by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck that brains and talent surfacing from either end of the nature v nurture debate do not dictate the success one can achieve in learning. What does lead one to becoming successful however is dedication and hard work and a belief that each individual can grow. In practice for the teacher this means facilitating an atmosphere of growth that opposes a fixed mindset of negativity and that ability is tapped. The word “can’t” is out. On a recent practical experience with a Prep and Year 1 composite class, my mentor would combat any defeatist attitude by a student with a rallying call to his troops, “chilllllllddddddrrrrrreeeeeeeennnnnnn, Charlie said he can’t do this!”. The children would systematically flock to the centre of the classroom where an enormous poster with three letters hovered above their heaven embracing eyes. In unison the crowd would roar “YET, you can’t do it yet”. Any hint of negativity was bombarded with positivity, as focus on what the children did right instilled a confidence to do better and a belief that they could. The power of yet at such a young age instilled an understanding that everybody in that room was on a learning curve.
I have since seen growth and fixed mindset practiced and embraced wholeheartedly during another of my prac schools, with seniors in Years 4, 5 and 6, spoken about by the school principal at my daughter’s Junior High orientation for parents, and actively addressed by friends in education circles.
Lesley spoke about “the curse of knowledge” in her blog mentioning that as educators we need to be careful not to assume that students will understand our teachings right away. This is also a significant understanding for teachers as well as ICT opportunities filter into the classroom . If educators can themselves develop a growth mindset then there is no reason to fear not having the knowledge, and being on the receiving end of that curse, nor an absence of effective conceptual understanding that often emerges when we encounter new technology.