There are so many unfair and inaccurate assumptions that are made in the education sector. The assumption that some children are brighter or more intelligent than others is one that is used regularly as lazy justification for varying levels of attainment. This flawed assumption is not only inaccurate… but dangerous. It makes people complicit in the myth that nothing can be done to level the playing field. The key, I believe, is mindset. As educators, our primary mission should be to fill learners with the belief that anything you teach them is achievable. Students should be inspired to learn and view their intelligence in the same way one would view a muscle – as something that can grow and develop with practise.
Socio-cognitive theory highlights the importance of viewing intelligence as malleable and able to change (Dweck, 1986). Learners who have a fixed mindset will view the completion of tasks as a measure of their inherent ability, thus causing a negative self-destructive cycle to emerge when they fail. In comparison, tasks being completed by learners with a growth mindset are interpreted as developmental opportunities, as intelligence is seen as malleable and able to change. Believing that intelligence is a birth right is a negative stance, which serves no purpose, other than keeping those who fail failing. A relationship between educator and student is key to knocking down this barrier. A relationship where an awareness of flexible intelligence is shared.
The world has recently experienced an unprecedented pandemic. Schools have been shut and many learners have fallen behind in their education. Now more than ever we need growth mindsets to come to the forefront. The resilience of every learner is being tested like never before and educators need to adapt accordingly. Schools may shut but the education will not stop. Digital teaching is becoming increasingly important and will help to eliminate the damaging impact that the pandemic has caused, and will continue, to cause.
Educators and parents must come together to address the mindsets of learners. Positive reinforcement must be used to highlight effort rather than achievement. Learners must begin to realise that it is how they respond to challenge that matters and not the end result. If the mindset is positive, the desired end result will naturally follow.
Research shows that growth mindsets have an impact on children’s behavior, especially in terms of effort, motivation and resilience (Dweck, 2008). More neuroscientific research will be conducted in the future and we cannot afford to wait for the results. We must have faith in growth mindsets becoming increasingly important as more research findings become apparent. It is our duty to encourage these mindsets to emerge in such turbulent times.