Adapting the principles of a “Growth Mindset” may be becoming one of the most popular new psychological concepts in UK schools right now, but recently, questions are being asked about exactly how effectively that message is being delivered to children.

Ever since Carol Dweck first put pen to paper on her NY Times best seller “Mindset – the New Psychology of Success” in 2006, subsequent research from around the word has overwhelmingly pointed towards the idea that having a growth mindset is associated with getting better grades at school.

There are many reasons for this. Kids who demonstrate a growth mindset are better equipped to deal with change and can manage change more effectively. They show increased resilience and increased confidence, as well as demonstrating higher self-esteem and fewer symptoms associated with anxiety and depression.

But recently, concerns have been raised by psychology professors, including Dweck herself, that the idea of the Growth Mindset is being diluted by many teachers who don’t fully understand it.

The principles of the Growth Mindset are based on the idea that children who are praised for their efforts in achieving a task through hard work and continuous improvement, are more likely to be successful than those who are praised purely for the results they have delivered.

At its core Growth Mindset is really about the importance of how we deliver feedback. The problem with telling children “you’re so clever” or “you’re so talented” is it doesn’t tell them what to do next time when they are struggling with a task. By praising their effort and the strategies they used, we give children a template of behaviour to follow.

So how is this message becoming confused? Well, in the rush to embrace this new method as the latest trend, many teachers confuse this message with one that says, “growth mindset is all about effort” or even worse “anyone can do anything”. Neither of these are accurate nor helpful.

Having a Growth Mindset is about believing that someone can learn and improve, not that some are born with God given talents and others are not. But if you want to shape a child’s behaviours and mindset, teachers must also look to develop a culture of high expectations and quality feedback. Only then can the real benefits of the Growth Mindset be realised in our schools.

If you want to learn more about the advantages of a Growth Mindset strategy and how it can benefit you in the workplace, check out the training YouTube videos.

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