‘In the fixed mindset, when you fail, you’re a failure. In the Growth Mindset, when you fail, you’re learning.’ Carol Dweck
What is a Growth Mindset?
Some people believe that intelligence is fixed and you are either born with it or not. Other people believe that intelligence can change and that you can get better at something you previously found difficult. Pupils who understand that intelligence can change and they can get smarter —who have a growth mindset—do better in school because they focus on improvement and see effort as a way to build their abilities. They see failure as a natural part of the learning process.
In contrast, students who have a fixed mindset—those who believe that intelligence is fixed—tend to focus on judgment. They're more concerned with proving that they are ‘smart’ or hiding when they think that they are not. This means they tend to avoid situations in which they might fail or might have to work hard. At The Bishop of Winchester Academy we are keen to promote a Growth Mindset perspective so that pupils can maximise their learning potential and develop as individuals.
Growth mindset thinking can result in:
- a love of learning and self-improvement
- a desire to be challenged
- a willingness to work for positive results
- a belief that you can control the outcomes in your life with effort and practice
- the ability to learn from your mistakes
- an ability to adapt to and cope with stressful situations and crises (emotional resilience)
How can I help my child develop a Growth Mindset?
We can help our pupils and children develop a Growth Mindset by the language we use.
- Praise hard work, determination, and persistence; things a pupil can control (e.g. ‘You worked hard to meet your target’).
- Don’t praise intelligence or ‘smartness’; these are things a pupil cannot control and may become part of their identity (e.g. ‘You are so smart’).
Why should we not praise intelligence?
Consider a child that has been praised for her intelligence all her life and schoolwork is always quite easy for her. One day the class learns something at school that she doesn’t understand. She is smart; she has never had to work hard before and she finds this uncomfortable. To protect her “smart” identity, she decides to not even try. After all, if she doesn’t try, no one will see her fail. However, if she is praised for the effort she puts in to achieve a goal instead of just the successful outcome, she will be more inclined to feel positively about facing new challenges.
- If a task is hard, recognise that it is hard work, but also recognise the progress and learning your child is gaining from it and the resilience they are building.
- Do not try to protect your child’s self-esteem by dismissing a difficult task. For example, ‘Don’t worry about it; I’m not good at maths either’ sends the message that it is ok to give up on trying.
- Focus encouragement on hard work and the process they went through to get there.
- Help your child work backwards to find where they may have missed something
Examples of growth mindset phrases:
- When you think you can’t do it, remind yourself you can’t do it, yet.
- I admire your persistence and appreciate your hard work. It will pay off.
- If it were easy, you wouldn’t be learning anything!
- You might be struggling, but you are making progress. I can see your growth (in these places).
- You were working on this for a while and didn’t quit!
- Can you tell me what strategies or notes you used to try and solve the problem?
- It’s great that you have that down. Now, we need to find something a bit more challenging so you can grow!
- What skill would you like to work on next?
- The next time you have a challenge like this, what will you do?
By working together we can help our pupils develop into confident, flexible thinkers who welcome challenge. If you want to more ideas and resources on how to help your child develop a Growth Mindset please visit:
In addition to this, below you can access some of the growth mindset materials we have been using to develop growth mindset techniques amongst our staff and pupils.