Quite simply, growth mindset is the personal belief that our skills and intelligence are not carved in stone and that they can be developed, cultivated, and improved. It’s the belief that through hard work, perseverance, and grit, we all have the capacity to learn and grow.
Why We Need to Teach Growth Mindset in Schools
For educators, teaching growth mindset can radically change the course of kids’ lives. When we teach students to believe in themselves, we’re showing them that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. We must implement growth mindset education in our schools to help give our students the long-term skills they need to chase after—and reach—their goals.
How Growth Mindset Works
The human brain is malleable. It’s capable of growing and changing in magnificent ways. You are not simply the cards you were dealt, and neither are your students.
The physical structure of the brain and all of its neural connections can be rewired. It's called neuroplasticity. Neuro refers to neurons, or nerve cells, which are the building blocks of the brain. Plasticity refers to the malleability of those nerve cells.
We can teach students to create new neural pathways and change their brain structure to believe in themselves.
Understanding Intelligence: EQ Versus IQ
Daniel Goleman, who writes extensively about emotional intelligence (EQ), has found that IQ only accounts for between 4% and 10% of a person’s career success. Yet, we still have an outdated school curriculum that is completely centered around academic intelligence. It places value on students’ abilities to solve complicated math problems in under 60 seconds, or to memorize the Periodic Table.
IQ only accounts for between 4% and 10% of a person’s career success. Yet, we still have an outdated school curriculum that is completely centered around academic intelligence.
On the other hand, the growth mindset curriculum focuses on the many different ways that students can be intelligent outside of their standardized test work. It encourages kids to notice the things about themselves that make them smart and capable.
Research indicates that children feel less and less capable of achieving success as they get older.
In fact, by the time students reach third grade, nearly half of them don’t believe that their brain and intelligence can grow or change. This is a stark contrast to the 10% of students in first grade who believe their intelligence is fixed.
By the time students reach third grade, nearly half of them don’t believe that their brain and intelligence can grow or change.
In two short years, almost half of our students lose faith in their own abilities. This is argument enough to make growth mindset concepts an integral part of every classroom, starting from a young age.
How Growth Mindset Removes Limiting Beliefs
Everyone knows labels have negative impacts on those who receive them, yet we often still use those labels anyhow.
“Girls can’t do math and science. Boys are too energetic and rowdy.”
Or we label our students lazy, irresponsible, or careless.
We now know that labels can stick for a life-time. These labels condition students to have a fixed mindset where they believe the label they are given.
These labels condition students to have a fixed mindset where they believe the label they are given.
For many of us, what we believe about ourselves turns into how we act, and that impacts our reality.
There’s a way to call out behaviors without using labels. Labels shame and blame, whereas we can use growth mindset to create positive change.
The Long-Term Impacts of Growth Mindset
According to Dr. Carol Dweck, who published Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “Studies show that teaching students to have a growth mindset, which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, helps make them into high achievers in school and in life.”
As teachers, we must not only focus on helping our students do well in school. They also must learn how to do well in their lives, long after they leave our classrooms.
Want to learn how you can implement growth mindset in your classrooms?
The Strobel Ed Growth Mindset course helps educators boost achievement and motivation in their classrooms.