Establish a Growth Mindset Class

Put forth the effort to make one and it is easy to do

Carol Dweck: The Start of it All

Carol Dweck has been researching the mind of children at all ages. Many students have been put through tests and have brought about shocking results. Through all of this, she has found two different ways of thinking and believing. Carol Dweck named them the fixed, and the growth mindset. She called them this due to how they see things and how they work on things. She has gone to many places just to speak about this topic. Many people have been intrigued by her research.

On one side is the fixed mindset; always focused on how well they do on tasks and compare themselves to others to see if they did better than everyone else. In some cases, this is considered a good thing, for grades, are very important to your future, but the journey also matters.

On the other side is the growth mindset, often thought of as the better one. They have more learning goals instead of performance goals which means that they know they can always do better. If they get a bad grade, they will think "This just means I should work harder". In a school like ours, it is important for all of the classrooms to be filled with the ideas of learning and trying harder.

Why We Need To Change

A growth mindset can change people's lives. A study was started by Carol Dweck and Dr. Claudia Miller about the impact of the praise you give kids and how it affects them. All of the students were given a puzzle that was at their grade level standards. All of the students were successful, but they were given different praise on their work.

One of the things said was understood as the fixed mindset praise. A teacher would come over and tell the student "Wow! You did a really good job. You must be really good at this!". This tells the student that they are smart in this subject and that they are born with it. This is the kind of praise that Carol Dweck considers fixed mindset praise. The next step to see how the praise affected them is how they react to challenges. When asked if they wanted a harder puzzle, the kids often backed down to an easier one. At the end, the kids were given another puzzle at the same difficulty as the first one. Most of them got grades even worse than their first time. To stretch this idea even further, when the kids were told to share theur grades, 40 percent said their score was higher than what it really was.

The next group of kids were given growth mindset praise. An example of this would be, "Wow! You did a really good job. You must have worked very hard!". This tells them that they put their effort into it and it paid off. Just like last time, the kids were asked if they wanted another puzzle that was harder. This time, the kids welcomed the thought of a challenge. Finally when given the same puzzle as the first time, this group did miraculously better than before. When asked about their score, only a few claimed to have a higher score than what they got.

This experiment's results were not a surprise. This is an excellent example on why this is required in classes. It can increasingly make the students more willing to succeed and to learn. The students can potentially get their grades up substantially and be at the top of their class, just with the change of how they see different things. Then, if they are at the top, it can motivate then even further to stay there. Even inside the brain we can see that the two mindsets are very different. If you look at the picture below, you will see that the growth mindset brain has much more activity than the fixed mindset. This can be explained as how the student lets in information. The fixed mindset person could close off their brain if they are overwhelmed which cuts off even more information unlike the growth mindset who opens up their mind so it will be easier to understand. Many students in this study were probably experiencing this while they worked.

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Megyuan Wu's Story

In an article by Megyuan Wu called "A Growth Mindset", Megyuan shares her story of how she grew up in a Chinese culture. When she was young, she was taught that talent cannot be learned, you are only born with it. She was also told to focus only on her grades; that they were all that mattered in the world. Her parents made her go through many different skills trying to find out what her born talent was. They tried piano, painting, sports, and everything beyond that. She found no interest in any of the activities she was supposed to be good at. After going through all the trouble to find out what her talents were and not finding anything, her parents were very disappointed and believed she had no talent whatsoever. This made her think that when she grew up she would never achieve anything because her parents made her feel worthless.

The fixed mindset she was taught showed when she felt tons of pressure just to do well in school. While going through school, Megyuan had heard about the "growth mindset concept" multiple times and thought nothing of it. It wasn't until the eleventh grade when she had an assembly in school that emphasized the fact that ”What matters is what you get out of it, not how high your score is." This was when all of the stress lifted all of her back and she started enjoying learning and school. After hearing about this idea, she pursued her dream of being in a fencing competition despite knowing what her mother thought about it, and eventually made it to a competiton and won bronze. This was all she needed to win her family over.

She continued fencing on until she had to apply for colleges. She had so much stress picking the right college just for her and applied to multiple schools. After a few months, she got many different college acceptance letters and found out she got into her first choice (Brandeis University). Even when she was more than halfway through her education, she still managed to get her life together and get into the main college she was aiming for.

Many people think that you live with one mindset and there is no way for you to ever change that. If she can change this in her life, so can the anyone who tries. It may seem like only the students need a growth mindset, but the teachers and parents should have one as well to help the students get through their hard times. If the adults have a fixed mindset, they may think that if a student does horrible on many assignments, they may lose hope and consider that child dumb; just like Megyuan and her mother. If they have a growth mindset, they will understand that the student just needs to be willing to learn. and enjoy what is going on.

It Needs To Be Implemented In Our WhoLE SCHOOL

Like it was said before, the important figures in kids lives also require a growth mindset. Even small things such as posters or inspirational messages can make a big difference for some kids. For others, it may not be a very large impact, but there are many different strategies to get to get into other mindsets.

Time and time again, all our children are taught that they should only focus on the final product or the final grade. If this becomes the next generation, many ideas may not be expressed if people think "It'll never work," or "It wasn't a good idea in the first place." If you go back in time and look at it, many inventors and other famous people have always gone through many critics talking about how they have no future, put they pulled through and didn't give up. Now you should think about how many inventors who did not believe in themself and had a fixed mindset. I'm sure there aren't many that come to mind. They never gave up or put themself down. The voice of the fixed mindset in your head is what holds you back. You just have to fight it in your head with responding with a growth mindset process of thinking. That is the key to success.

Websites and Resources Used

"Wire Side Chats: How Can Teachers Develop Students' Motivation -- and Success?" Education World:. Education Inc. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.

"Dweck's Theory of Mindset." Dweck's Theory of Mindset. Web. 02 Feb. 2016.

"The Power of Believing That You Can Improve." Carol Dweck:. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.

"The Power of Belief -- Mindset and Success | Eduardo Briceno | TEDxManhattanBeach." YouTube. YouTube. Web. 30 Jan. 2016.

Wu, Mengyuan. "A Growth Mindset." Print.