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Growth Mindset

The concept of Growth Mindsets is based on the work of Carol Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation.  She introduced the idea of Mindsets.  Mindsets are beliefs about yourself and your abilities.

At Oakfield Primary School we have embraced the idea of developing a growth mindset within all members of our school community.  This key concept has helped shape the ethos of our school. 

Read more about growth mindsets by following this link: Help Your Child Try New Things

Carol Dweck

People with a fixed mindset believe they are born with a certain amount of intelligence and that it is fixed for the rest of their lives.  People with a growth mindset, however, know that intelligence is not fixed, and that you can, in effect, grow your brain.  They see their traits as just a starting point and know that these can be developed by hard work, effort, dedication and challenge.  Having a Growth Mindset can improve children’s progress and attainment.   Rather than simply praising success, we praise effort and persistence.

We are teaching our children that by having a Growth Mindset they can grow their brains and intelligence.  The brain can be developed like a muscle, changing and growing stronger the more it is used.  The brain grows new cells when we are learning new information and skills.  This short video clip explains this really well - You Can Learn Anything 

Fixed Mindset

Growth Mindset
I like my work to be easy

I don’t like to try a challenge

I want people to praise me for how clever I am

I believe I cannot change how clever I am

I don’t like to try new things because I won’t be very good at it

I give up easily
I never give up

I like my work to be difficult – it means I am learning

I love challenges

I want people to praise me for the effort I put into my work

I believe I can get more intelligent by working hard

I feel clever when I’m learning something new

I learn from my mistakes

Here is a quote from Carol Dweck:

"In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it."

This is important because (1) individuals with a "growth" theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and (2) individuals' theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues. For example, children given praise such as "good job, you're very smart" are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if given compliments like "good job, you worked very hard" they are likely to develop a growth mindset. In other words, it is possible to encourage students, for example, to persist despite failure by encouraging them to think about learning in a certain way.”

At Oakfield Primary we teach our children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.  Our children recognise that effort, persistence and good teaching are what helps them to improve.  This helps us to provide an energetic and inclusive culture.  It has had a really positive effect on our ethos and on how children approach learning and support each other.   We are aiming for each child to develop a Growth Mindset where they love learning, they value effort and they persist in the face of obstacles.

Here are some quotes from our children about what is means to have a Growth Mindset:

“If we can’t do something we have to have tenacity and keep trying.”

If you can’t do something at first, you just have to keep practising and then you get better at it.”

“If you make a mistake it helps you improve.”

“You keep trying instead of giving up.”

“Say you believe in yourself and that you can do it, rather than giving up.”

“It’s about not giving up.”

“If you get stuck you are learning.”

How you can help at home

  • Praise the amount of effort your child is putting into things rather than how clever they are.  Here is a link to an interesting article about this: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/praise-effort-not-outcome-think-again;
  • Ask your child “What did you learn today?”, What mistake did you make that you taught something?” or “ What did you try hard at today?
  • Talk to your child about their brain being like a muscle - the more they use it, the stronger it gets;
  • Encourage your child to not give up if they are finding something difficult;
  • Challenge your child to try something new or challenging;
  • Praise your child for their effort, persistence, the strategies they use, for  seeking challenges, setting goals, planning, or using creative strategies, rather than for personal abilities like being smart, pretty, or artistic. Here is a link to a Youtube video about praise:  Youtube watch

Some famous Growth Mindset quotes:

"Important achievements require a clear focus, all-out effort, and a bottomless trunk full of strategies."
Carol Dweck

"Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance."
Samuel Johnson

"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."
Theodore Roosevelt

And a final word from Carol Dweck herself:

“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.”

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