Catherine Junior School

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Growth Mindset

At CJS we have been learning all about applying a Growth Mindset to our work at school. We have learnt about Famous Failures and The Dip and how we can use a growth mindset to help us to be resilient and make progress in everything that we do.

Here at CJS, we want our children to understand that it is okay to be stuck and to make mistakes, and that some of their best learning is done when they find things the hardest. Rather than simply praising success, we praise effort and persistence. We know that FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning and so failure shouldn’t be a scary – it’s just part of the learning journey!

We believe the best thing to do is to teach children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. We try to make sure that all children encounter challenges and find some work tough! Our children recognise that effort, persistence and good teaching are what help them improve.

We have learnt about the two types of mindsets that children and adults can have; a ‘fixed’ mindset and a ‘growth’ mindset. Below is an overview of the traits of each: 

Fixed Mindset 

  • I like my work to be easy 
  • I don’t like to try a challenge 
  • I want people to praise me for how clever I am 
  • I believe I cannot change how clever I am 
  • I don’t like to try new things because I won’t be very good at it 
  • I give up easily

Growth Mindset 

  • I never give up 
  • I like my work to be difficult – it means I am learning 
  • I love challenges 
  • I want people to praise me for the effort I put into my work 
  • I believe I can get more intelligent by working hard 
  • I feel clever when I’m learning something new 
  • I learn from my mistakes  

It has been proven that having a Growth Mindset can improve children’s progress and attainment. As a result, we are teaching our children that by having a Growth Mindset they can grow their brains and intelligence (like a muscle!) and achieve anything they want! 

The teachers have learnt about the work of Carol Dweck, a professor who has done a lot of work on Growth Mindset. Here is what she says:

"In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it."

This is important because (1) individuals with a "growth" theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and (2) individuals' theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues. For example, children given praise such as "good job, you're very smart" are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if given compliments like "good job, you worked very hard" they are likely to develop a growth mindset. In other words, it is possible to encourage students, for example, to persist despite failure by encouraging them to think about learning in a certain way.”

How you can help at home 

  • Praise the amount of effort your child is putting into things rather than the outcomes or how clever they are
  • Talk to your children about their brain being like a muscle - the more they use it, the stronger it gets
  • Encourage your children to not give up if they are finding something difficult – remember FAIL means first attempt in learning!
  • Challenge your children to try something new or challenging.

For more information on how to help to develop a Growth Mindset at home, visit https://www.mindsetworks.com/parents/growth-mindset-parenting for some great strategies and information.

Below are some videos we’ve used to learn about Growth Mindset from Class Dojo – they’re easy to watch and explain it really well. The presentation to parents talks more about Growth Mindset at CJS, including some examples of the language to use to help to support a Growth Mindset. When you next come and visit us at school, take a look around to see if you can find any examples of great Growth Mindset language!

Class Dojo has produced an exciting new series about Perseverance – have a sneak preview of the videos below!