The past few years have seen an extraordinary level of interest in Growth Mindsets.
Educators around the world have become increasingly aware of the importance of a Growth Mindset to student performance. Consequently, there has been enormous interest in classroom practices that develop Growth Mindsets in students.
Unfortunately, in the rush to implement these ideas, numerous misunderstandings and misapplications about Mindsets have arisen. These have prompted Professor Carol Dweck to call for a more nuanced understanding of her work. I’ve written about many of these misunderstandings in previous blog posts, including:
- This is NOT a Growth Mindset
- How Growth Mindsets become “last year’s initiative”
- Why are we still talking Fixed vs Growth Mindsets? (where I explore the Mindset Continuum)
- A series of blog posts on Misunderstandings About Mindsets
And, of course, Growth Mindset forms the foundation of my most recent book, The Agile Learner.
This intense level of interest in Growth Mindsets is completely justified. A Growth Mindset is critical to improving student learning outcomes. Unlike some educational initiatives and programs, a Growth Mindset is not simply a “good idea”. Professor Dweck didn’t invent a Growth Mindset – she identified it. Our Mindsets have impacted our learning for as long as we’ve been learning! What Dweck’s research has done is help us understand how important Mindsets are.
But as important as a Growth Mindset is to learning, it is only part of the story.
At the end of the day, a Growth Mindset is simply the understanding that you are capable of growth. It is an invitation to grow; not the growth itself.
To achieve growth, we must take action. We not only need to understand that we are capable of growth, we need to take the right sort of actions to achieve the increases in talents, abilities and intelligence our Growth Mindset tells us we are capable of.
That’s why I’ve called this year: A Year of Action. A Year of Growth.
I want to talk about what it takes to achieve growth. I want to shift the focus from the Growth Mindset message of “I can grow” to the Agile Learner message of “I am growing!” After all, it’s the growth we’re most interested in.
So, this year I am going to help you develop Agile Learners: learners who not only understand that they are capable of growth, but who know how to achieve that growth. We will explore the importance of developing powerful Habits of Mind (Costa and Kallick) and we will delve into the work of Anders Ericsson to understand the process of acquiring new abilities (see Three ideas every educator needs to understand).
If you’ve ever been to one of my workshops, you’ll know that I often begin by asking the question my principal asked me many years ago. She asked, “James, what are you going to do this year to help make your students more intelligent?”
This year, I’m going to help you not only answer that question – I will give you the tools you need to achieve it in your classroom.
I will be offering workshops around Australia and New Zealand this year, so if you’d like to learn more about developing a Growth Mindset and Learning Agility in your students, I invite you to come along.
James Anderson is a speaker, author and educator who is passionate about helping fellow educators develop students as better learners. James’ work combines Growth Mindset with Habits of Mind and Practice to create Learning Agility. He puts the growth back into Growth Mindset. And through creating and describing the Mindset Continuum, he provides the cornerstone for effective Growth Mindset interventions.
James is a Certified Speaking Professional and speaks regularly at conferences around the world. He has published several books including Succeeding with Habits of Mind, The Agile Learner, The Mindset Continuum and The Learning Landscape.
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