On behalf of Alwyn Poole:
A Properly Held Growth Mindset is THE key to Effective Teaching for Improvement and Excellence
(join us for an event in Auckland Nov 11 a great time for PD and planning for change/improvement in 2018)
Having been in teaching since 1991 (Tauranga Boys, Hamilton Boys, St Cuthbert’s College, Villa Education Trust) and having been the parent of three children, to me, the key progression in education and human development has been the improved understanding in how the human brain works. When you place this alongside the work of Carol Dweck (and subsequently others) on a “growth mindset” you have a huge hint on how to make a difference to both young people and adults.
As Carol Dweck makes clear in her work – this is not a platitude. It needs to be carefully understood and applied.
John Hattie explains after spending time with Carol Dweck:
“[a] growth mindset” – it is not an attribute of a person, it is a way of thinking in a particular circumstance. “
The key question is, “WHEN is the appropriate situation for thinking in a growth manner over a fixed manner?” In these situations, having access to growth thinking helps resolve the situation, move the person forward, and not lead to resistance, over reaction and fear of flight into a fixed mindset.
Most recently, Dweck (2017) noted her research relates directly to how students perceive their abilities – which has a long history in self-attribution, locus of control, calibration, and many other related notions. She brought a sharpness to two of the core ideas.
- The belief that one’s intelligence or abilities can be changed
- It is fixed and immutable
the lowest achieving students found a message of possible change compelling, and while they did not change their beliefs about intelligence, they did feel a boost of optimism that drove them forward”
And as Hattie’s associate Peter DeWitt writes:
[Hattie] said the reason why growth vs. fixed mindset has a low effect size is due to the fact that adults have a fixed mindset and keep treating students accordingly, so right now the effect size is low, and will continue to stay low unless we change our practices in the classroom. We put students in ability groups, they get scores on high stakes tests that help label them … once students enter into Special Education, very few leave.
First and foremost, we have to get away from having a fixed mindset [ourselves] because it has terrible implications for how we treat students. We do not have a crystal ball, and we shouldn’t treat students who struggle like they will struggle for the rest of their lives. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we treat students like they will always struggle…they may always struggle.
We talk a lot about the growth mindset but our actions may be counterproductive to putting it into action. A growth mindset is so vitally important for adults and students. Adults need to have that mindset for their own growth but more importantly for the growth of their students.
Talking about the growth mindset is not good enough. Our actions are where the rubber hits the road. If we believe the growth mindset is important, and believe that it should have a higher effect size, then we need to follow up with the actions to make it happen.
One of the people who have made these concepts accessible is Matthew Syed – best-selling author of Bounce and Black Box Thinking.
At the Villa Education Trust we have taken this seriously in our day-to-day practices in our three schools. More than that – we are bringing one of Matthew’s authorised Mindset in Education speakers (Rob Carpenter) from the UK to New Zealand in November of this year.
We would love for you to be there:
November 9 in Wellington: https://www.eventfinda.co.nz/2017/black-box-thinking-in-education/wellington
November 11 in Auckland: https://www.eventfinda.co.nz/2017/black-box-thinking-in-education/auckland