My tryst with the concept of growth mindset started when I was on a journey of self-discovery. I was at that crossroads of life when material gains and fame were not on my cards anymore. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. But who would they be? A young mother then, I enjoyed exploring educational avenues for my young child.
Akin to how Buddha gained his wisdom under the Bodhi tree and Archimedes his “Eureka moment”, I had my “ This is what I want in my life” kinda moment. I knew I had this natural orientation towards children and that’s the space where I could unleash my passion. The child in me resonated with the innocence, curiosity, and purity in these young hearts. From then to now, I have dabbled and experimented with(myself and children) several concepts and one such concept was the growth mindset. From a facilitator of after school activities to now as a full-time educator at Ekya school, “growth mindset” fascinates me as nothing else has.
“Growth mindset” sets a person free: freedom from fear of failure, freedom from poor self-esteem, freedom from “perfectionist” syndrome, and freedom from putting oneself down.
A growth mindset sets one on the path of exploration, grit, and perseverance; all these are the qualities that one needs to achieve one’s goals. So, what is a “growth mindset”, anyway? -A mindset that encourages one to keep trying despite failures, a mindset that enables one to learn from one’s mistakes, a mindset that allows one to learn at his/her own pace, a mindset that allows one to learn best practices from others and so on.
Having a growth mindset is a liberating experience and is worth inculcating. The challenging and changing environment of the 21st century necessitates a growth mindset to be able to handle them successfully. Is it then not necessary to impart a “growth mindset” along with our curriculum?
Classroom scenarios offer amazing opportunities to inspire students in developing a growth mindset. Here are a few examples of how educators can facilitate students in developing a growth mindset:-
- Finding learning opportunities in mistakes: – Encourage students to participate. Tell them not to fear making mistakes. Tell them it is okay to have some ideas that do not work than not to have any ideas at all. (courtesy: Edward De Bono). If their answer is incorrect, an encouraging response could be “ I am glad you participated. It takes courage to do so. Your participation has given you and the class a wonderful opportunity to learn the correct answer and I am sure you would do a great job the next time.”
Allowing oneself to make mistakes and learn from them is a Growth Mindset.
- Teach them self-reflection:- After a review or a TEE, ask students to write down what went well for them and what did not. If they are dissatisfied with their performance, facilitate them to identify the root cause, and encourage them to draw up an action plan.
Learning from failures and moving on with an action plan is a growth mindset.
- Catching them with a growth mindset: Students unknowingly demonstrate a growth mindset in classroom scenarios. Just the other day, a 6th-grade student of mine incorrectly answered a question posted for oral discussion. I told her “ I am glad you stuck your neck out and answered. But, I want you to read the question once again and reflect upon your answer.” She did reflect and attempt another answer. That turned out wrong as well. But the child kept trying till she got the right answer. What an opportunity to showcase a growth mindset. I jumped with joy and quipped “Ananya showed a growth mindset. She would not give up until she got it right.”
Catching them with a growth mindset and highlighting it goes a long way in fostering it.
Last, but not least, follow it yourself. Show how you learn from your mistakes. A” Thanks for pointing the spelling error on the board, Ayan” will demonstrate how receptive you are for feedback. Not giving up on your students and telling them “ I am sure you will do better next time” is a great way to demonstrate your growth mindset.
The above was certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list for “ How to inspire children into a growth mindset?”. It just gives a sneak preview of the sea of opportunities for educators to inspire their students into a growth mindset. It does not end here.It just starts here…… Wishing all my fellow educators a great time exploring their own mindsets and inspiring their students into developing a growth mindset. Cheers
- Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology Stanford University (for researching deep into this concept)
- Subha Parthasarathy. Founder Magichive for introducing this concept to me.
Ms. Mathangi R
Social Science Educator, Grades 5 to 7