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Why A Growth Mindset Is Essential For Positive Learning Outcomes

Have you ever thought “I wish I was better at sports,” or “I could never do that”? Well, unfortunately, we all have these thoughts now and again. Children and young adults...

Have you ever thought “I wish I was better at sports,” or “I could never do that”? Well, unfortunately, we all have these thoughts now and again. Children and young adults are especially prone to these thoughts as they are in the part of their lives where they’ll be learning new things such as sports, academics, and life skills. Due to the large influx of all this knowledge, children begin to doubt whether they are capable of mastering any of it. They adopt the mindset “If I can’t do it now, then I’ll never be able to do it”.

This mindset is known as a fixed mindset. As we’ve established, a fixed mindset is when you come to believe that your skills are unchanging; your skills cannot be improved, and if you are not a master of a particular skill then you never will be. Obviously, this mindset can be harmful to a child’s development and can prevent them from learning that ‘practice makes perfect’. This is where instilling a growth mindset in children comes into play. A growth mindset is one where the person in question believes that challenges are an opportunity for learning and that failure is an opportunity for growth. Rather than seeking out reasons to not pursue a skill, children with a growth mindset will revel in the ability to continually hone new and interesting skills and abilities. Often, we tend to praise ‘natural’ abilities or ‘talent’ which undermines the effort required to learn a new skill. Allowing children to believe that their qualities and intelligence is carved in stone can lead to negative consequences as an adult and a need to continually prove themselves.

It has been shown that people with a growth mindset derive as much happiness from the growth process as achieving results. These people seek challenges in the form of material engagement, rather than only receiving satisfaction from objective completion. It has also been shown that someone with a growth mindset will find setbacks motivating. “I didn’t perform well, what could I do better next time?” is what a growth mindset inclined person might say; these people see failure not as a definitive endpoint, but rather as a platform on which to try again. Lastly, people who possess a growth mindset see not themselves as a finished product, but rather as a continuous work in progress. They know that they are responsible for their own learning and growth and are therefore prepared and able to setup systems for continuous learning. If they want to become a doctor, then they’ll set out to study biology or chemistry.

While encouraging children to adopt a growth mindset is crucial and fantastic, we don’t always know how to go about doing it. To start, it is imperative that we praise and reward children for the process of working and learning, not the outcome. This teaches them that the learning process is far more important. Providing children with challenging material is also essential as getting them accomplish difficult tasks will provide them with a sense of accomplishment, encouraging them to seek more challenges. Lastly, teach children to attribute their successes to hard work and effort, not to natural talent or inherent skill. This will help them link accomplishment to the work process. By teaching children to adopt a growth mindset, we are helping them to continuously seek to self-improve and learn new skills and abilities. Children are far more capable than we or even they realise, and a growth mindset will help them to soar through life.

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ADMINISTRATORS' SEMINAR 2024 REGISTRATIONS OPEN

30 JULY 2024 - 2 August 2024

Join us at the Administrators’ Seminar, an annual event for principals, pastors and administrators to gather, connect and enjoy a time of renewal.