Home' Independence : Independence Vol 36 No 1 May 2011 Contents 20 Independence Vol 36 No 1 May 11
LEARNING & TEACHING
management: ‘What are you teaching
them?’; ‘What are they doing – they’re
working?’; ‘They’re smiling, friendly,
polite to us’; ‘They take their break in a
manner typical of youth – boisterous, but
not in a loud attention-seeking manner’;
and ‘You never have to come and find
them or tell them to get back to class!’
These are significant changes, valid
indicators of student engagement,
motivated by meaningful and purposeful
learning. The students demonstrated their
desire to change, their desire to learn.
The phenomenon of a fixed mindset, of
being motivated by performance goals
and ‘looking smart’, doesn’t discriminate.
Attending a PhD seminar, I heard each
PhD candidate refer to experiencing fears
of being ‘found out’ not to be clever, and
being asked to leave the PhD program.
The motivation behind this open
expression was to reassure the audience
that these feelings are normal, even to be
expected. Further, examples were cited of
renowned scholars who had expressed the
same sentiment. These were science and
business PhD candidates at a prestigious
university, unwittingly revealing being
motivated by performance goals.
Similarly, we do ‘gifted’ students a
disservice when we hold beliefs that a
fixed mindset is a phenomenon of those
struggling with adversity, whose learning
failure or low socioeconomic status is
Professional and personal
Teachers need to be taught about fixed
and growth mindsets, particularly during
teacher training. If they are not, we risk
perpetuating generational fixed mindset
practices, contributing to a steady decline
in motivation and student learning success.
At a growth mindset professional
development session for teachers which
I led recently, there were four graduate
teachers also in attendance. All felt this
knowledge vital to teacher practice and
expressed their concern that in spite of
having just completed a four-year degree,
they had never heard of these ideas.
Student learning success is more assured
within a growth mindset culture, with
educators who model learning success.
To achieve that end it is imperative that
this research should not be approached
simply as something one does to students.
If we’re to understand the mindset of our
students we first need to understand our
own. The more growth mindset teachers
and parents there are in the world, the
fewer fixed mindset children and students
we will have in the classroom.
Children and students deserve every
opportunity to achieve their potential,
and they can’t do it with fixed mindset
teachers and parents. Their chance to
reach that potential is dependent upon
our commitment as parents and teachers
to learn to only praise process, that is,
effort, strategies and persistence.
By making the learning of mindset theory
a priority, we can reasonably expect
our children to flourish. As teachers
we can achieve this by applying it first
to ourselves (not only to how we think
about ourselves, but also to how we think
about our students), and then teaching it
to our students.
Lorraine Davies is a growth mindset consultant
and principal of Mindset Mastery. She may be
contacted at email@example.com .
AHISA is grateful to Professor Carol Dweck and
Mindset Works for making available screenshots
from the Brainology® online curriculum as
illustrations for this article.
Editor’s note: Curious about your mindset?
Test it out at http://mindsetonline.com/
Ainley, M., Frydenberg, F. and Russell, V. J .
(2005) Student motivation and engagement.
Schooling Issues Digest 2005:2. Accessed 14
October, 2010 at http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/
Dweck, C.S. (2006) Mindset: The new
psychology of success. New York: Random
Brainology® is a research-based
curriculum for teaching students a
growth mindset and putting it into
practice. The Brainology curriculum
combines online, interactive
animation with classroom-based
activities to teach students how the
brain changes with learning and
how they can use brain-based study
strategies to accelerate their progress.
Brainology raises students’ self
expectations, motivation and
knowledge of what learning is and
how to do it effectively. It gives
teachers and students a common
understanding and language to
discuss the benefits of effort and
practice. It helps schools increase
student achievement, develop a
learning-focused culture and gain the
greatest impact from existing teaching
and learning time and resources.
Brainology has been used successfully
to improve motivation and increase
achievement at hundreds of schools
around the world. It is aimed at the
entire population of students making
the transition to secondary school
(Year 6, 7 or 8 is optimal) and has
also been notably effective in helping
older students reorient themselves and
reengage with education.
Once students learn from Brainology
how to make their brains work better,
they become more motivated to
succeed through effort and persistence.
Educators can focus the energy of such
students in a productive direction more
easily, and can spark a lifelong love of
learning in them.
Brainology was developed by Stanford
and Columbia University psychologists
Carol Dweck and Lisa Blackwell,
co-founders of Mindset Works, based
on decades of research in student
motivation and achievement. To
register for free preview access to
the online Brainology program and
supporting curricular materials visit
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