Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t like just about every five year old have a “growth mindset?” I mean, depending on parents and other circumstances, I’m sure even kids that age can see themselves as limited. But most of the tail-waggers I’ve seen in kindergarten feel like they can conquer just about anything. They’ve already got a “growth mindset.”
The reason we need all sorts of “growth mindset” books and workshops is not because we need to develop that in kids. It’s because we’re now in the business of trying to restore that in kids, something that by and large schools strip away.
We really think ranking and sorting with grades are good for kids? We really think that telling them that they can’t continue to pursue their interests is good for their “growth mindset?” Or that focusing on problems with one answer makes them more confident in their potentials to achieve?
It would make more sense to focus simply on nurturing and supporting the learning mindsets that kids already bring with them, rather than forcing them to adopt a “school mindset” that has little connection to their real lives.
Robert Schuetz says
From my vantage point, we are seeing an ever-increasing number of students who are facing tremendous challenges outside of school. Growth mindset strategies help many of our students overcome learned helplessness. Schools aren’t the only thing that strips the joy out of kids lives. Maybe it’s growth mindset that opens the door to a learner’s mindset.
Will Richardson says
Thanks for the comment. Like I said, I’m sure school isn’t the only culprit. But it shouldn’t be one of the culprits either. My thinking is that if we do a better job of maintaining those mindsets in school, kids may be better able to fend off those “culprits” outside of school.
I see this as a post NCLB problem. As a student and a teacher learning seemed to be the focus before but after only what happened on the high stakes, end of year test mattered. Schools closed, teachers fired, kids told they are failures all because of this federal law ans subsequent revisions. There is little joy left in public education and that needs to change. Growth mindset, in my opinion, is just another fad telling kids how they should think about themselves instead of allowing them their passion, joy, and adventure in wonderful learning.
Christina Esparza says
I really like the idea of a growth mindset, but also agree with Will Richardson that every student has a growth mindset already. We as teachers need to stand by our life-long learner ideals and provide for students to once again begin to use their growth mind-set.
I do agree with you that during the NCLB act education was stalled in terms of teachers were not given more freedom in creating engaging lessons from outside resources. Now with common core, we are still teaching to the test in a sense, but also giving students more opportunity to learn 21st century skills and have more academic discourse.
As educators we have to have growth mindsets in exploring new areas and modes of learning. I like to think of it as finally letting students and teachers explore new things of interest.
I love this post as we have all lapped up Dweck’s “growth mindset” as the key to success. Richardson is right, aren’t children born with the imagination and idea that all things are possible? As kids go through school, they are bombarded by negative messages about the limits of their capabilities. (other places too, but I know many students who remember the negative message a teacher imprinted on them at a young age). I am always complaining that “testing” is getting in the way of my teaching. If we are truly living ‘growth mindset”, then students are constructing their own knowledge through curiosity, research and drive to create their own meaning and voice. I have to interrupt high level discussion around issues of social injustice in our book study in order to assure the school that I have prepared students to answer main idea multiple choice questions from a culturally insensitive and disengaging text on high stakes testing. Growth Mindset is not a newly coined term. It is called raising kids with confidence and empowering them to be risk takers in their learning.
I don’t see a radical difference between what you are saying and what Carol Dweck has said. She sees the probable cause of fix mindset the overpraising and unrealistic expectations, common to most schools and parents. A crooked feedback system yields a deformed mindset. She recently explained that focusing in growth mindset is not what lots of people are doing, replace the outcome by the process/effort. Until we stop lying to children and allow them to explore, play free and be more independent and responsible we will keep killing what nature provided in the first place.
I absolutely agree with you in this post. Children are naturally curious and love to learn. It is only through years of institutionalized education that students begin to relinquish this zeal for learning. The focus on standardized tests and data is not making things any better. So much of education has become about numbers, grades and test scores. We don’t take our students’ interests into account, we don’t let them explore and discover in a natural way. I hope that we are able to bring this type of learning back to our classrooms!
EDUC 6710J says
I absolutely agree with you in your post. Students should be taught in an environment where they can grow, and developed what they already know. When we nurture the individual talents in each of our pupils, we are building self-esteem, and lifelong learners.
EDUC 6710J says
I agree with you in your post. Students should be taught in an environment where they can grow, and developed what they already know. When we nurture the individual talents in each of our pupils, we are building self-esteem, and lifelong learners.
Tina Westwood says
You are spot on with your analysis of growth mindset, children, and school! I have collected mindset surveys from K – 12 students and my findings match yours. The little ones have very strong growth ideas about themselves as learners. They believe they can learn, they believe that people can change and grow. The older teens, not so much. That said, I have seen the positive change in the teens beliefs after spending 9 months with a teacher who willingly gives up content teaching time to talk about the emotions, behaviors, and mindsets of learning and growing as human beings. If we could embrace creativity and differences as something to be celebrated rather than teaching it out of kids, I think mindsets would continue to be growth oriented!
You’re basically right. A growth mindset is something we are all born with. I believe that people with fixed mindsets are just expressing their fears. Instead of facing their fears they just state that this is how the world is. A way of putting the blame on someone or something else.