Mindset Matters

Ms. Paminder Kohli - PYP Head | 17th July, 2017 Back to Blog

Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck after decades of research on achievement and success. Dr. Dweck coined the terms ‘fixed mindset’ and ‘growth mindset’ to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence.

According to Carol Dweck, in a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them, and believe that talent alone creates success. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through effort and practice. This view creates a love of learning and research shows that people with this view reach higher levels of success than people with fixed mindset beliefs.

Recent advances in neuroscience have shown us that the brain is malleable and connectivity between neurons can change with experience. With practice, neural networks grow new connections and strengthen existing ones. These neuroscientific discoveries have shown us that we can increase our neural growth by the actions we take, such as using good strategies, asking questions, practicing, and following good nutrition and sleep habits. Dr. Dweck found that people’s theories about their own intelligence had a significant impact on their motivation, effort, and approach to challenges. Those who believe their abilities are malleable are more likely to embrace challenges and persist despite failure.

Research shows that mindset affects learning. Children who have a growth mindset respond differently in challenging situations, report greater academic progress, greater engagement, obtained higher grades and showed better overall performance when compared to those who attribute their performance to fixed intelligence. They persist in the face of challenges because they understand that effort and hard work can change ability and intelligence.

While, children who have a fixed mindset tend to avoid situations in which they might fail or might have to work hard. They tend to give up easily when they encounter obstacles, because they believe that they don’t have what it takes to learn hard things.

Teachers and parents play a huge role in shaping the mindset of their children. In RBKIA teachers design challenging and open tasks to teach a topic or concept that encourages learning and provides an opportunity to learn from mistakes. Students are encouraged to make sense of the concept and value the process of learning. Classroom activities that involve cooperative work are designed so that students feel a sense of responsibility to the group and try their best, encouraging the development of a growth mindset. Students are given opportunities to share and reflect upon their new ideas while considering what they learnt from the process. Teachers praise students for the hard work and the process that they’ve engaged in, when they ask good questions, persist through difficulties, invest the necessary effort to succeed and believe that their performance is subject to improvement.

As a parent you can help your child in a number of ways. Showing your children that you are excited by challenges, seeing mistakes as learning opportunities, understanding the value of practice and trying different strategies will help in promoting a growth mindset. When children make a mistake, Dweck explains, parents should be ready to praise them for their efforts, and also should point out new ways of approaching a given problem, ones that point out the flaws or shortcomings of a previous strategy.

As Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently."

Developing a Growth Mindset amongst students is not an immediate process rather, it’ll take a concerted effort on behalf of the school community and parents but it’s definitely worth it!