Towards a growth mindset- It's not intelligence that leads to success, it's the belief that you can succeed.

Children in Greece strive for grades. They study to do well in tests. They study to pass the exams. And when they don't do well in tests or exams they are disappointed,  disheartened. They often give up! They don't believe in themselves. This is because our educational system rewards intelligence and not effort. It's the binary trap of success and failure that is the aim. Nobody has ever taught them that the aim of education is learning not grades. We see children with good grades as smart children, we tend to praise ability rather than effort. We say "You did it! Look how smart you are"! And if the ability isn't good enough, what can you do? If you fail, in spite of being smart, then what? Where can you go from there?

So what should we do? It is my firm belief that as educators we can always make a difference! In this case we should try to create growth mindset environments for our students. And if the system doesn't promote such a mindset let's show our students the way. To create a growth mindset environment it means to teach your students not to focus on scores but on the learning process. If the outcome of this sprocess is not what they wished, teach them to try again. Mistakes are only part of the learning process for a growth mindset. There is no such thing as failure, because every "failure"is a stepping stone to the path of success. 

When you have a growth mindset you know that intelligence can be developed. So can talents and creativity. The brain is like a muscle and if you train it hard, if you challenge it enough, you can take it further. "Effort, good strategies and proactive help seeking are the 3 attributes of a growth mindset" according to Dr.Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, who has been doing a research on growth mindset. You don't have to worry about how smart you are because you know that you can always change this. Your focus is on hard work and improvement. Your goal is learning. "At the heart of what makes the growth mindset so winsome, Dweck found, is that it creates a passion for learning rather than a hunger for approval."..."Stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself."

We should also teach that other values contribute to success, such as goal setting, grit or our perseverance  for long term goals, self-control in order not only to get started by setting a goal but also stay on track. A growth mindset is part of what we call character education, which is my intention to discuss in a future post.

Last but not least, we should set the example as teachers, practicing what we preach by developing a growth mindset ourselves. We should always try to learn: from our students, from reflection, from trial and error, from peers/colleagues,mentors/ supervisors or academic information in our field. We should be committed to lifelong learning and ongoing professional development. We should also be open minded, dare to embrace new ideas or implement changes. We should be all these we wish to see in our students.

(If you are interested in growth mindset you can watch Carol Dweck's videos on YouTube, or visit the following site: www. mindsetworks.com.  Also there is an article on Carol Dweck on Brainpickings- 29/01/2014)



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