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Why is mindset like Star Wars?

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

It's May the 4th and that can mean only one thing - It's Star Wars day!

Yeah, I know its a multi-million dollar movie franchise and yeah Princess Leah has the most incredible hair buns, but for me, this is a real challenge. I have possibly watched some of the original movies when I was about 7 or 8, but didn't really pay much attention. I have seen snippets of the latest films as I've channel hopped, but I cannot say that I have ever been enthralled by Star Wars mania (I know, I'm sorry, that's just how it is).

So when Liz mentioned me doing a blog about Star Wars and mindset, it took a lot of positive talking for me to actually start getting anything down. For starters, I was saying, "I don't like Star Wars, I just don't get it, it's boring, this will be rubbish, what am I supposed to write?"

Hmmmm, not really the start I was after and you are probably even thinking, "Well, what is the link with Star Wars and mindset?"

What is the link with Star Wars and Mindset?

Well if you type in to Google that very question there are reams and reams of pages, websites, posters, blogs, worksheets, videos that explain the link. Yoda is Growth Mindset, Darth Vadar is Fixed Mindset and sometimes it is also Luke who shares his father's mindset. So that's it then. You can all go type in Google and find out for yourself. You don't need me, brilliant.

But then I remembered the e-book that James Anderson had sent me last month, where he actually mentioned Star Wars as part of his explanation. You see, the problem with many of the sites that come up on Google are actually part of what we call a 'False Mindset.' A mindset researched by Carol Dweck back in 2016, as she started to notice the impact of her book and the fact that it was not being interpreted in the way she imagined.

We would be really unwise to ignore the 'False Mindset' and so now I can show you the danger of researching the likes of Pinterest for resources and explanations of mindset. (Yes, I've got something important to write about!)

What is a False Mindset?

The False Mindset has arisen from the way society has misinterpreted the Fixed Mindset that Carol Dweck coined in her research. Fixed Mindset has been deemed as bad, something to steer away from. In posters and resources all over the internet, it's shown in colours of grey, black or red and as mentioned before, it has been linked with Darth Vadar. Growth Mindset is shown as green, rainbow colours, for the enlightened learner and in terms of Growth Mindset, Yoda holds the crown.

It's almost as if the two mindset are at war with each other, just like in Star Wars. We must combat the evil threat that is locked into our minds!

If you truly understand the research the Dweck has dedicated her life to, you will understand that mindset is not like that at all. You see, no one is truly just Fixed and no one is truly just Growth Mindset. Everyone is a mixture of the two and we can place ourselves along, what James Anderson describes as, "The Mindset Continuum." You are not a baddie or a goody. You just are. Your mindset is set somewhere on this continuum dependent on your beliefs that have been developed unconsciously over a long period of time.

Understanding this is critical and gives reason to why so many interventions have failed and also how to avoid creating a False Mindset culture. After all, what we thought we understood about Fixed and Growth, saw many people searching for something that did not exist. What we should be aiming for is trying to move ourselves along the continuum to become more growth orientated.

What is Growth Orientated?

Many educational settings, who get in touch are looking for myself and Liz to wave a magic wand in their class over a 6 week period (equating to 6 hours intervention) and to cure all their children of the Fixed Mindset bug. We often have to explain that this expectation is highly unrealistic.

A lot of what myself and Liz do, is to teach about Growth Mindset, how to become more growth orientated, how to change their thinking, behaviour and attitude to learning. We also discuss Fixed Mindset triggers, we reassure them that it's ok to have this mindset too and applaud and congratulate open honest conversations without prejudice. However, when you're only in a class for 1 hour a week, over a 6 week period, this in itself is a challenge.

What we always encourage after each session is for the class teacher to follow up, use their new learning to continue to spread those messages. The most successful classes, the teachers get involved. In others, our sessions can be 'time fillers' and the impact is minimal.

Our purpose is not to make children or ourselves Growth Mindset. Our purpose is to nudge them towards a growth mindset, but it has to be done collectively.

"We shouldn’t expect students to suddenly start embracing challenges, listening intently to all our feedback, and persisting for long periods. Rather, they will start taking on slightly more difficult challenges, perhaps only if they think there’s a reasonable chance of success. They will listen to more of our feedback, as long as they don’t feel criticised. And they will stick at tasks a bit longer before they start feeling as though their effort is wasted. Our goal should be small incremental changes along the Mindset Continuum, not flips between Fixed and Growth Mindsets."

What do I need to do now?

So, you see mindsets have very little to do with Star Wars really. Even Yoda can move along that continuum some days, just as we do.

Hopefully, I'll have got you thinking now, so here are few tips here that you can follow in order restart your work on mindsets.

  1. Take some time now to reflect on what you've just read. Many people start trying to develop mindsets in others, without really reflecting on their own first. Where are you on the continuum, what are your triggers, what does your inner voice say to you often?

  2. Avoid resources that say "Don't' say this, say this" or "Change your words. Change your Mindset" because these separate Fixed and Growth into bad and good, but actually, they are also the wrong way round. How can you change your mindset based upon what comes out of your mouth and what you say to yourself? Surely, you have to change your mindset first, in order for the words spoken to be more growth orientated?

  3. If you're going to praise effort. Don't interpret that as 'Praise effort to those who struggle." As eventually it becomes a consolation prize.

  4. Revise your expectations. You are not trying to become Growth Mindset, you are trying to become more growth orientated.

  5. Download James Anderson's e-book and have a read of the further advice he gives.

And that, my son, is the lesson I give today, I have. (Mmm, much better in a Yoda voice, I find!)

Much Love

Gemma x

If you love a good read, why don't you check out our other blogs about mindsets.

If you would like to know more about Grow Your Mindset click here.

Or if you want Grow Your Mindset to support your journey to become more growth orientated, get in touch here!

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