A closed mindset is a belief that your intelligence is determined by genetics and you are born with a certain capacity of information.
Having an open mindset, on the other hand, is the belief that this is simply not true. It is the belief that just like your muscles, you can train, refine and grow your brain and increase its capacity for information and skill acquisition.
Growth mindset has been another buzzword floating around for the past 10 years in education, but what does it actually mean and how do you develop a growth mindset in your classroom? It sounds complicated but actually you can grow children’s mindset organically and subtly, by making a few small tweaks.
What does the research say?
London taxi drivers have to give their brains a workout when they navigate the complicated streets of London. Research suggests this has an impact on the brain. The part of the brain responsible for spacial awareness is bigger in taxi drivers compared to other Londoners. And the longer a person has been a taxi driver, the bigger that part of the brain – evidence that the brain can be strengthened and developed.
The brain changes and develops throughout life – a process called neuroplasticity. Certain experiences cause new connections in the brain to form or strengthen, making the brain smarter by literally rewiring it. But what experiences encourage this development? Do we have to dedicate time to develop growth mindset or can we encourage this in the classroom naturally?
Growth Mindset Through Feedback
Is copying others stealing and plagiarism? Nussbaum & Dweck (2008) – identified that after completing an assessment, closed mindset children were much more likely to want to see children that had performed worse than them. However, children with growth mindsets wanted to see the best assessments in order to learn from them.
In your classroom, encourage the sharing of ideas. Gallery walks give children an opportunity to move around the classroom and look at other children’s work in order to use their ideas in their own. Use children’s work when sharing great examples. Take a picture, stick it on your interactive whiteboard displays and build learning from there. Children will develop the understanding that learning from each other is the most constructive way to improve and that not being the best is an opportunity and not something to be avoided.
Growth Mindset Through Praise
Mueller & Dweck (1998) identified that the way we praise children is important in growing a growth mindset. In fact the type of praise we use can either hinder or support growth mindset development. If you praise students for their outcome, they view success as an outcome. You are celebrated for the end product. The danger with this is when a child’s fails, they deem themselves a failure. This can encourage children to avoid failure by sticking to easier tasks and never challenging themselves fully.