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.
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)
I 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’: