Have you ever thought about how praise might affect your daughter’s attitude towards learning? I recently attended a Growth Mindset course and there are so many underlying messages that are given through different types of praise. There are also some very simple strategies for encouraging students to think with a growth mindset.
In brief, Carol Dweck has researched that there are two types of mindset – a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is one that believes intelligence is fixed: you’re either smart or not; you’re either good at Maths or not good at Maths; and you don’t have to work hard to be good at something, it comes naturally. A fixed mindset also sees making mistakes as a sign of weakness. In contrast a growth mindset learner believes that if you work hard you can improve your intelligence. They view mistakes as learning opportunities and they are more willing to take on challenges.
Comments like “clever girl” or other types of intelligence praise reinforces a fixed mindset by implying that you’re naturally smart without any effort. So instead it is important to praise the process “you’ve worked really hard at that” or “you’ve really persevered even though it was difficult”. This type of praise encourages self-motivation, encourages a willingness to learn from mistakes, encourages students to take on challenges and as a result become more confident learners. It also helps students to understand that hard work contributes to a positive outcome.
Another key tip is to remember that there is always a backstory. Everyone that is “smart” has worked really hard to get to where they are. Our top maths students spend a lot of time practicing mathematics to get better at it, our top athletes are the ones who put in a lot of time and effort into their training. It is important to remember that everyone who excels in something has worked really hard and put in a lot of hours and effort to get to where they are.
Disappointments will be a part of every learning journey, but how a student responds to them is what is important. Praising effort, attitude and determination will help to really foster a love for learning. Enlightening students to the backstory of how people who achieve at the top of their game is equally as important.
If you would like to find out more detail about growth mindsets in relation to achievement please click here.
Ms Susannah Marshall
Year 8 Teacher