What is a growth mindset?
We’re always pushing our pupils to ask questions, try new things, be willing to make mistakes—these are all part of a growth mindset. The concept of a growth mindset is the belief that your abilities and talents aren’t set in stone, that you can grow and improve over time with hard work and effort.
Of course, the opposite exists too, known as a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is believing that your talents are fixed, no amount of effort will result in improvement… thinking – smart people will be smart. If you’re not smart, then you won’t ever be smart.
It’s pretty clear which one we prefer to aim for at Aveea.
Why we encourage developing a growth mindset
Naturally, it’s easier to teach this to children while they’re young. Habits are things we pick up over time. While we’re young, those habits stick, and they stick hard. I’m sure you have habits of your own, some great, some less than desirable. The habits that form a growth mindset are certainly going to fall under the former.
A growth mindset will naturally lead you to taking various actions in order to grow. For example, actively seeking out feedback and constructive criticism. Clearly an important habit to develop, after all, how can you grow without knowing what to do?
Another example is the willingness to try new things, when your aim is to grow, you naturally are willing to try new things to achieve that growth. Perhaps these ideas are sounding a bit familiar, well, these are exactly the things we encourage at Aveea on a daily basis.
Another one of these ideas which we encourage is viewing mistakes as opportunities. Mistakes can be fantastic opportunities for learning, and perhaps there is a stigma behind the term ‘mistake’ which leads us to spend our lives avoiding them, but that’s something we aim to dispel at Aveea.
We encourage risk taking, sometimes, even when we already know the outcome won’t be the desired one. When we see children trying something wild that isn’t part of the lesson plan, we rarely say no. If there is an opportunity for learning for either the individual or the rest of the class, the ‘risk’ is absolutely worth taking.
How we develop this growth mindset
Language can be a big part of this, obviously disparaging words aren’t going to be of use here, we all understand that. But the opposite can have an effect too, regardless of how little. We always try to use language like ‘yet’, they might not be an engineer ‘yet’, but someday they might.
Much more encouraging than saying you aren’t an engineer, or you ‘might’ become an engineer. Sure, it might be more accurate, but encouraging these goals is a big part of developing a growth mindset, to help the individual believe that they still have room to grow.
We always talk about what our pupils could be doing in the future, it helps set a goal to aim for. It helps them understand that they don’t need to be able to do certain things right at this exact moment, that it’s something they’ll be striving for over time. Just because they failed something one year, doesn’t mean they will fail the next year, or the year after.
As many have heard before, the possibilities are endless. If we put a deadline on when they need to succeed, what would happen if they fail? Wouldn’t they be encouraged to give up? That’s why we talk about the future. We don’t know when they’ll get it, but we want them to keep trying till that day comes.
Progress, progress, progress, it’s always about progress.
We love seeing new kids join us at Aveea, even if they’re quiet and timid, give them a few weeks and they’ll be more than happy to be standing at the front explaining their model. They’ll be explaining their models with words they learnt in the same day. If that doesn’t show growth, I don’t know what does. It’s truly awesome to see.
But when we talk about progress, we’ve also got to discuss reflection. We see this all the time when we run sessions, pupils will bring up past sessions and try to incorporate ideas from them to tackle new challenges.
Or perhaps they’ll realise after a session that they could have approached it differently, both of these show clear signs of growth.
And of course, the best way to encourage this progress, as we briefly alluded to, is challenges. Being able to cruise through tasks is nice and all, it certainly is refreshing to be reassured that they’re capable, but it’s also important to feel challenged.
To feel like there’s something to overcome, so that when they inevitably do, they feel as if they’ve grown—and that feeling becomes reality.