• James Kerr

Growth Mindset

Updated: Nov 23, 2019


I found the “mindsets” piece of our summer learning experience to be both engaging and unifying. I particularly enjoyed the messages of Mizuko Ito and Will Richardson and by extension, Carol Dweck. Carol Dweck writes about “Growth Mindset” and “not yet”(Dweck 2014). I try to model these concepts to my students and hope that they will embrace the strength and longevity of this approach to lifelong learning. Will Richardson’s mindset of “sticky learning” melds perfectly with Mizuko’s description of new learning in the “complete abundance” of the digital world. Early in my teaching experience, my students might have regarded my role as a primary provider for new knowledge. The students of today carry a new mindset, where vast resources are available though the click of a hand held device.

Both Richardson and Ito stress the importance of student engagement and interest. My classroom instruction must tie into the abundant and relevant learning that my students are embracing outside of the traditional brick and mortar school setting. To have a growth mindset is to embrace uncertainty, and to risk being wrong, and engage with error, develop ideas to correct error, and to be “on fire with yet” (Carol Dweck, 2014). In my own practice, I often stress the metaphor of a bridge for connecting. Dweck employs this metaphor to explain “yet” in praising process, strategy, and perseverance, for students engaged in a growth mindset. The stress of a fixed mindset, where students run from a challenge because an “A” is the goal, opposes her proposed classroom norm. A growth mindset engenders engaged and vibrant student learning, building skills that will transfer, and empowers students to embrace and solve hard problems in diverse school settings and in future life.

Richardson describes a vibrant learning space as: safe, fun, relevant, social, interactive, positive, real, challenging, requiring personal investment and not constrained by time, associated with passionate teachers or mentors (Richardson, 2016). He explains that engagement must be the new mantra. Like Ito, he stresses that the abundant access to online tutors and role models has permanently altered the learning context for students today. He quotes Seymour Sarason; “Productive learning is when the process engenders wanting to learn more.” He ties this quotation to the personal interests that students bring to the classroom. Richardson also quotes Dewey: “Teach everything that anyone wants to learn” – let the kids bring the focus. He also quotes John Seeley Brown when referring to online learning. Brown states that Internet access affords “a new century of learning passion connected to resources and people.” My mindset must embrace that the majority of student learning will take place outside of my classroom and I must learn to know the passions of my students.

Ito suggests a triangular interaction of learning for the modern student. Students begin with a passionate interest, share that interest with peers, and then connect these two resources to the classroom environment. Describing the existing “pipeline” for education, she stresses that the informal digital learning networks must be integrated and connected to that pipeline. Most importantly, Ito stresses students must create in this mindset, genuinely contributing to community (Ito, 2012).

Finally, Dweck states that teachers can change mindsets of students, taking them out of comfort zones to grow real new connections. This strategy works for all students, building equality. Students must learn that “smarter” means to embrace effort and difficulty. May my students find such an enriching experience in my classroom.


Resources


Dweck, C. (2014, November). TED Ideas Worth Keeping, TEDxNorrkoping, The Power Of Believing That You Can Improve. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve#t-608665


Richardson W. (2015, November 21), Tedx Talks, TedxWestWcanouverED, The Surprising Truth About Learning. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxyKNMrhEvY


Ito, M. (2012, September 14), HTW, A New Learning Paradigm. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCoRdxlaLUA

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