Is Growth Mindset Real? An interesting question and one that's undoubtedly been searched hundreds, if not thousands of times. No-one can deny that we all have a mindset, the dictionary has its definition "Mindset" (noun) a set of beliefs or way of thinking that determines one's behaviour, outlook and mental attitude. It's also clear that our mindset determines the progress we make towards everything we embark on, whilst we cannot often change the situations we find ourselves in, can changing our mindset towards the situation actually make a difference to the results we experience? Mindset has always been there, and always will be but by shifting our attitude, focus and beliefs to think and behave in a more growth orientated way does this indicate that our abilities can be developed?
There are many critics out there who question, find reasons why and conclude that Growth Mindset is a fad, so is it? As teachers, Gemma and I have experienced many fads over the years, most of which fizzle out with little impact, often because they are transactional procedures, not led with passion, role modelling or for no other reason than to tick a box.
We have written numerous blogs over the last 12 months that challenge, question and debate the principles and theories around Growth Mindset. Since 2017 at Grow Your Mindset we have developed our training and workshops around the research of Carol Dweck. However, how the principles of Dwecks research are applied determines whether the outcomes are real or deemed as a fad. Often misinterpretation and simplification of her work results in the quick fix culture that we often look for, wanting instant results (often academic). "Growth Mindset was last terms initiative" rings out from many a school as her work is discarded, when after 6 weeks the 'results' are not evident. Dweck herself stated about her work that A Growth Mindset is a journey not a proclamation, one that takes time, effort and is hard work.
Since working on my own mindset which began in late 2016 to date, I often find myself challenging my instinctive thoughts and habitual behaviours, which have been moulded by my life experiences and those main influencers around me through to adulthood, parents / siblings / teachers / peers. Defaulting to my fixed mindset occurs regularly, the difference now compared to the past is that I don't allow it to take root. I don't want the results I've always experienced. To be the best version of myself means making changes to my inner belief system, which influences my behaviour and attitude, which in turn impacts on the progress I make as a learner, yep at 49 I'm still learning! Afterall learning is limitless! So a 6 week initiative doesn't really cut it for me. Inviting individuals to become mindset aware and approach life in a more growth orientated way is something that both myself and Gemma work on day in, day out and for children to do that alone when their main influencers continue to give fixed mindset messages the results would undoubtedly be minimal.
I mentioned earlier that Dwecks work has been oversimplified to become more of a transactional process. In the schools we're working alongside the transformational comes through when time and effort is invested, not only in the children but their staff too. Everyday teachers/teaching assistants impact on the mindset of the children they communicate with, whether they magnify a fixed or encourage real growth is their choice, but only when adults connect with their own mindset can they see how they influence others with their actions, language and attitude. Claiming to be a Growth Mindset school but not following it through in classroom practice again results in the conclusion that 'it's not working'. Schools like to measure results, they have become so accountable everything is tracked. Unfortunately, whether a child is 'growth mindset' after introducing the concept is something that cannot be determined, no-one is 100% growth or fixed, we are all a mix of both placed on a continuum. Therefore success in developing a Growth Mindset ethos within a school cannot be measured by how many children have a growth mindset but by how much more growth orientated they have become. Noticing whether a child changes their normal attitude towards or approach during real life situations at home or in the classroom is the sign that they are challenging and changing their mindset, but this changes from one day to the next until it is done so often it becomes a natural response.
The feedback we receive from teachers who have embraced our training for themselves, which then results in them changing the language they use with the children they teach has for us reaffirmed that developing a Growth Mindset is real. It is not simply about improving academic scores, has my IQ improved since my journey began? I don't know, I couldn't say but what I do know is since recognising my fixed mindset triggers and challenging my fixed thoughts, I've nugged myself to grow in that I've stepped out of my comfort zone more, challenged myself, taken responsible risks, embraced my mistakes and changed my perception of words such as struggle, failure and setbacks. Holistically I feel better as a person, I rarely compare myself to others or internalise my fixed mindset as a bad thing but as an opportunity to change. Changing my mindset has changed me, and to me that feels very real!
Our Accredited Staff Training through our GyM Hub programmes are a great start for SLT and teaching staff. Our Mindset Motivation programmes for classes and 1:1 children have resulted in teachers and parents feeling thrilled that children feel much better about themselves and how they learn.
Feel free to get in touch if you want to know more!
If you love a good read, why don't you check out our other blogs about mindsets.
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