What do Thomas Edison, Oprah Winfrey, Sir Richard Branson, J K Rowling and Nelson Mandela have in common?
- They’re all very successful/ influential
- They persevered against the odds
- They were once children
Well 3 is clearly a given, however as educators we frequently fail to see that some of the children who struggle most to access the curriculum could be as influential as any of these individuals.
What is it that’s so different about these individuals? They were all able to ignore the advice of others, well-educated teachers who thought they may have been giving good advice. In some cases ignoring the advice of parents and other significant adults in their lives. Succeeding in spite of the system, not because of it.
All these individuals had the ability to maintain a growth mindset, despite all the negative ‘can’t do’ attitude that was thrown at them. Why doesn’t education work harder to fit the learning needs of children and even in the 21st century continue to expect children to meet very specific expectations?
So how can we really embed growth mindset throughout the school? As a senior management team, it needs to start with how we promote growth mindset throughout our staff team, we can’t promote mistake making, risk taking, give it a go attitude throughout the children if we’re not practicing this as adults.
- High Challenge, Low Threat – in the words of Mary Myatt, it’s amazing what can be achieved when there is challenge, but the only risk is reflection, self evaluation, key areas of learning and ideas for improvement. Clearly relevant to both adults and children.
- Decide upon key language to use throughout the school – encourage praise to focus on effort, strategies, progress, participation and perseverance.
- Expect growth mindset throughout the team. Make staff and children aware of fixed mindset, how limiting it is and the impact of growth mindset. Watching Carol Dweck on YouTube could be useful in sharing this concept among teachers and TAs.
- Give awards based on growth mindset as well as high achievement.