Growth Mindset Education Essay

All teachers can relate to the following: students are listening but not hearing what you’re saying.

I’m guilty of that too.

I’ve been lucky to work for two great principals in my career. My current one kept sending out emails about encouraging students to have a “growth mindset.” I took it for at face value and thought “Of course! I want all my students to grow!”

Had I scratched the surface a little deeper, I would have found out a lot sooner about Carol Dweck and the idea of a Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset. Luckily some blunt professional development set me straight.

A Fixed Mindset says: I am who I am, and will be who I am.
A Growth Mindset says: My skills and talents can grow, if I want them to.

Here’s a chart I definitely didn’t make. See if you can’t spot your students, or yourself.

I love so much about it. It speaks to those kids (and parents) who see nothing but straight A’s but failure. How can there be growth without failure? And if a student is never challenged by our class, are we doing our job right?

It speaks to those kids who for whatever reason, think they aren’t smart. Or aren’t “good at school.” Dweck has an excellent answer for them “not yet!

It speaks to me. I caught myself saying today: “I’m not good at decorating bulletin boards.” But dammit, I can be!

The more I look at this philosophy, the more I love it. Grades are often so arbitrary, and in middle school are practically meaningless. I want my students to strive, learn, and fight for their education. Not jump through a number of hoops to earn a letter.

In a lot of ways, it reminds me of the philosophy of my favorite football team, the Oregon Ducks. A huge part of their culture is competing every day against themselves. To be better than they were yesterday. There might be some pitfalls along the way (read: losing to Ohio State), but the improvement is so tangible.

I can’t wait to dive more into this. I found a great overview of workshop on User Generated Education. She has a bunch of great content on the growth mindset. Check it out!

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