working together so learners can flourish

Chances are you have heard the term ‘growth mindset’ floating about in educational circles. Perhaps you even use it yourself to describe an attribute of a thriving learner. And it can be – an attribute of a thriving learner, that is – or it can be one of those buzz phrases that people fill with their own meaning. Given the talk about a changing paradigm for teacher professional growth and given that many of you have goals related to professional growth in your school improvement plans, I think the information in the links below is worth considering.

Jackie Gerstein, who has facilitated several workshops on a ‘growth mindset’ for educators, says in her blog post on User-Generated Education:

The faddish or pop culture version of the growth mindset is emerging as: “Have a Growth Mindset.” This smacks of the “Just So No” campaign of the Reagan era.  Catch phrases about a growth mindset will have as much effect on actually developing a growth mindset as just saying no did on curbing drug use.

Carol Dweck’s expresses some concerns about integrating the growth mindset into educational settings: A lot of teachers are saying ‘yes I have a growth mindset’, without doing the work and without making a journey to deeply understand it and to know how to apply it. Even some teachers who genuinely have a growth mindset aren’t understanding how to apply it properly. They are just telling kids to try hard: which I call nagging, not growth mindset. Or they are just saying ‘hey kids, have a growth mindset’.(Carol Dweck)

the-educator-with-a-growth-mindset-29-1024I mirror Dweck’s concern about educators and learners needing to do the work required to develop a growth mindset. It is a deeply reflective process requiring that this process occur often and over time.

As a visual summary, Gerstein offers these diagrams to illustrate what she considers to be a true ‘growth mindset’:

growth-fixedgrowth mindset

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