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Mindset – Revisited, By Michael Quigley, Head of Upper School

QuigleyA few years ago the SDJA faculty read the book Mindset – The new Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, PhD. As a result of her research Dweck concluded there were two types of mindsets- fixed and growth. The growth mindset “is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” A growth-minded person is one who believes they can change and grow through application, persistence and experiences. A fixed mindset is based on the belief that “your basic qualities are fixed and unmalleable.” Dweck also concluded that we are a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets. Although interesting, what does this have to do with education?

In the years since the publication of the book, Dweck and her team at Stanford revisited the research. The research team is currently reflecting on their work and its impact on people’s lives. They now believe they may have “put too much emphasis in the book on sheer effort and presented the development of a growth mindset as sounding too easy.”  In the education realm, effort is a very important component of learning but it’s not the only thing. A few ideas have emerged that have been of interest to SDJA’s faculty. Growth minded learning involves students attempting new strategies and seeking input from teachers when they find themselves stuck or struggling with their studies. The partnering of student and teacher in the process is vital to expanding student learning. In addition to the seeking of support and nimbleness in approaches to learning, awareness of our personal tenancies is another aspect of growth minded learning. Be on the lookout for fixed-minded reactions to setbacks or struggles. When you experience a setback or struggle; do you look for an excuse or are you eager to learn from teacher feedback? When you fall short on an assignment or assessment; do you feel defeated or energized to reflect and make a change in how you engage with the course material? Understanding those fixed-mindset reactions is vital in developing strategies to overcome them and embody a growth-minded approach to learning.

Learning is a life long journey and we hope that journey for our students is a growth-minded one.

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