I have been a teacher for 26 years, a Headteacher for 11 years and, at the age of 50, this much I know about why we are developing Growth Mindset Learning tools.
If you always do what youve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. If you haven’t heard Henry Ford’s ubiquitous aphorism by now, I really cannot imagine where you’ve been these past few years. It’s such a cliché, but it is behind the conclusions drawn by Yeager, Walton and Cohen in their overview of research into the impact of Growth Mindset strategies in schools.
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Their conclusions are important for any of us developing a Growth Mindset in our schools:
Hard work alone is not enough. When I learnt how to play golf, I practised until my hands bled. But I always thought about the outcomes of my shots and would change things if a fault crept into my game. And I always had a coach; I knew what I was doing, but I needed an expert to point out to me any subtle failings in my game which I hadn’t identified. What I had to prevent, during my endless hours of belting balls up the practice ground, was ingraining faults. The same applies to our students. Whilst Growth Mindset emphasises the importance of hard work, the danger is dismaying students who work hard and don’t improve, who keep doing what they have always done and get what they’ve always got.

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What we are realising is that a Growth Mindset culture and effective learning are as one. Consequently, at Huntington we are developing a range of Growth Mindset Learning TM tools. The tools will help students with the process, rather than just us exhorting them to make more effort. Watch this space…


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This post has 12 Comments

  1. That Yeager, Walton and Cohen paper is a really important one I think – as it clearly identifies some of the potential pitfalls and problems with trying to scale psychological interventions within schools. What do you think of one of their major concerns – that mindset interventions need to be ‘stealthy’ if they’re to be effective?

    1. Yes. I think they might mean relentless, every day, every interaction, so that students hear the same message subliminally. We have found an explicit acknowledgement has been a positive, giving us a common language to discuss attitude to learning.

      1. My reading of it was rather different: rather than everyday and explicit messages – that ‘brief’ interventions, not involving any form of direct appeal was the way that such psychological interventions had effect.
        I’ve discussed this article and another by Yeager and Walton (2011) here: https://evidenceintopractice.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/growth-mindset-its-not-magic/
        Best of luck with your school’s attempt with it. I hope you’ll update on how you get on!

        1. If you relentlessly praise effort, without mentioning GM, everyday, without fail but without fuss, I reckon that might be “a ‘brief’ intervention without direct appeal”. Thanks for your best wishes – it’s a lifetime’s work…

  2. Been reading around these issues and authors or a couple of years and during a during a final trawl before starting a new year tomorrow morning (oh, nearly today) found your site; how refreshing and exciting! I’ve already referred several colleagues by email, many thanks for your work.
    I am a classroom music specialist, though I must confess, I have no qualifications in music whatsoever, but am lucky to be able to pass on my love of music. In working with music, obviously all teachers bang on about the importance of practice, but probably all music teachers (=musicians?) like to bask in public recognition of their “talent” which often leads them to a Fixed mindset in terms of musical ‘giftedness’ and must influence their teaching. One of my main tasks this year is going to be to change the culture of the Music Centre where I work alongside instrumental specialists who clearly see the world divided into ‘musicians / non-musicians.’
    In Primary and Middle schools I have written a number of songs to develop GM and to instil and reinforce behaviours and characteristics. As a musician yourself, one is definitely a guitarists song, would you be interested in trialling one or two? I am convinced that the rhythm/rhyme/repetition of songs drills the lyric and its message into the consciousness perhaps more effectively than anything else. I’d be glad to share some dots if you’re interested though I’m thinking of trying to publish so would appreciate your feedback.
    Dave R

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