One of the principles of our approach to education at Churchill is the development of a growth mindset. But what exactly is it?
Growth mindset is an idea developed by Professor Carol Dweck at Stanford University in the USA. Your mindset is what you believe about yourself and your abilities. Dweck’s research into this idea – what she originally called “self-theories” – revealed that some people have what she calls a “fixed mindset.” In the fixed mindset, you believe that your qualities are carved in stone. You are born with a certain amount of ability, and that is all there is to it. Some people are better than you. Other people are not as good as you. But your abilities are fixed, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Other people, Dweck discovered, have a “growth mindset.” In a growth mindset, you believe that the abilities and qualities you are born with can be developed and cultivated through effort, application, experience and practice. With the growth mindset in place, we see challenging situations as opportunities to learn and grow. When we make a mistake in our reading or writing, we learn from it and improve the next time we come across that word or that expression. When the teacher asks a question, we think about it, and we are happy to explore it together with our classmates to help refine and develop our thinking, leading to greater and deeper understanding. The process helps us to improve. To grow. And even if we don’t know the answer right now, if we work at it, listen carefully, and apply ourselves, we will know it soon. In the growth mindset, Dweck suggests, the priority is “learn at all times and at all costs.”
The best way to understand the ideas behind mindsets is to listen to Carol Dweck herself. This video is an illustrated version of a talk she gave to the RSA in 2015, explaining some of her research and what it means for learning. Take ten minutes to have a watch – it could change your life!