World-renowned Stanford Professor of Psychology Carol Dweck has dedicated her career to research into achievement and success. Fascinated by the fact that some young people with outstanding intellect and talent fail to succeed whilst others with seemingly more average attributes go on to become Olympic champions, piano virtuosos or the CEOs of major organisations, she discovered a simple idea that makes all the difference.
That idea was mindset – that we can all be divided into two kinds of people, those with fixed mindsets and those with growth mindsets. The success stories above are people with growth mindsets.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities. This has huge implications for parents, teachers and coaches.
At Harperbury we will dedicate part of our working breakfast sessions to equipping our students with the time and information they need to be able to develop a growth mindset. We will employ some of the following strategies:
1. Giving good feedback: we can protect young people from the limitations of a fixed mindset by ensuring they are praised for effort, concentration and the effectiveness of the strategies they use, not for their innate intelligence or for how quickly or effortlessly they appear to achieve something.
2. Presenting young people with information on the brain and its huge potential: this can have an enormous impact on the way they think about themselves and learning. No student would expect to become a premiership footballer without putting in hours and hours of focused practice. Our growth mindset lessons will teach our students that their brain is like a muscle which forms new connections and how these connections become stronger with practice.
3. Giving young people information on how figures they know, or admire, managed to succeed: illustrating achievement through effort and good strategies is another useful device in encouraging students to adopt a growth mindset. Positive stories about inspiring role models are a proven method for helping young people to see the potential for change.