Growth mindset is the latest thing to hit schools in the last couple of years in an attempt to improve their mental health and their accomplishments. It is being used to help children cope with the world around them and get better results.
So what is a growth mindset?
First we need to look at what a mindset is. A mindset is basically how you see the world around you and the situations you find yourself in. Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person? The point is that it is the same glass seen by two different people and somehow seen in different ways. The same applies when you are faced with an event or a challenge.
“If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford
This phenomenon has been studied by a lot of people. The result has now been broken down into two distinct mindsets. A fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Carol Dweck – a Stanford psychologist wrote a book “Mindset – The New Psychology of Success” that used these terms. A fixed mindset sees the world as absolutes, things are as they are and will never change. In regards to people the fixed mindset will only see people as; good or bad, rich or poor, clever or stupid. A growth mindset will look at these people from different viewpoints and will expect that they will change/grow into something better.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid” – Albert Einstein
We often see children thinking with a fixed mindset view, thinking that they are stupid if they cannot do all the things that are asked of them. We see them thinking that they are fat or cowardly and even find that there are bullies that prey on their apparent weaknesses. Would it be better if children believed that their weaknesses could be turned into strengths or that they all have talents and can all be geniuses and valuable?
I think so. In schools children are taught to take any fixed mindset reaction they have and turn it into a growth one. Here are some examples.
- I’m not good at this——–I can’t do this yet
- I give up——-I will try some strategies I have learnt
- It’s good enough——Is this my best work yet?
- This is too hard——If it’s hard it means I’m learning
- I can’t do this ——-It is going to take time and effort to master
- I can’t make this better—–There are always improvements to be made
- They can’t do it——-How am I going to make them understand this?
These phrases and many others will hopefully help our children change their mindset into one of growth and make them stronger more resilient adults. Adults who will be able to face all the challenges set before them, treat failure as nothing more than a challenge and create new things that will make all of our lives better in the future. Our world only changes when people dare to think differently. If a person from as little as a couple of hundred years ago could see us now they wouldn’t believe what they were looking at. We have found ways to fly without flapping wings like the birds in the sky. We have found ways to harness the power of lightning and use it everyday. We can dive to the bottom of the oceans and even travel into space. Who knows what we will be able to do in the future is our children have the right mindset? We could solve all of the problems we face today, pollution, hunger, disease, poverty. Our future could be very bright indeed.