Is that really a growth mindset?

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Many schools are adopting the idea of a growth mindset school as though it is a brand.

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck must be thrilled that her research into success and achievement has become so popular but would she also be a little concerned that this could be an approach that if it doesn't achieve quick wins could be dropped like a hot potato.

I heard recently of a VIth form student who after her first day at college was a little disgruntled to achieve what she described as a lecture from her new tutor about growth mindset.

She told her father I had it all the way through school and now I have to put up with it at college! I think Dr Dweck would be dismayed to hear of a perception that growth mindset had been part of a pep talk, well intentioned but clearly not hitting the mark.

One school has decided not to share targets and data with pupils on the basis that it's not part of a growth mind-set approach. Is this an example of policy based evidence rather than evidence based policy as Professor Colleen McLaughlin recently noted.

In her book Dr Dweck 'Mindset' makes this point really clearly in her chapter on maintaining change, she states" mindset change is not about picking up a few tricks . In fact if someone stays inside a fixed mindset and uses the growth strategies, it can back fire."

Behind the talk of growth mind-set there needs to be a strong belief that intelligence can be developed, this idea is really the starting point and before it's shared with pupils it needs to be thoroughly explored by teachers and staff to elicit their mind-sets. It is admirable to desire to be a school focussed on creating a growth mind-set but removing challenges for pupils is not in keeping with the research that Dr Dweck and her team have carried out, especially on student progress in their grades following a 'brainology workshop' that students participated in "before the workshops, students' maths grades had been suffering badly. But afterward, lo and behold, students who'd been in the growth-mindset workshop showed a jump in their grades". It was the adjustment of the students beliefs that enabled them to achieve, the children were now in charge of their minds. The system for assessing their achievement did not change. 

For more information click on the You Tube link or read the book Mindset by Dr Carol S.Dweck.

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