For a number of years, people were of the belief that intelligence and other qualities are something that a person is born with. It was suggested that these traits could never be cultivated or developed in a person. Either you were intelligent and talented from the outset or you were not. This kind of mindset is termed as a fixed mindset and it limits a person’s potential and his thirst for learning. However, this mindset is changing and new studies have shown that intelligence and other qualities can all be nourished and enhanced by constant effort and experience. This new thinking has been given the name of growth mindset and it is of particular benefit for children in the classroom.
How Does Growth Mindset Help in Child Development
The concept of growth mindset is a simple one. It says that the true potential of a child is not fixed but is in fact limitless. Even if a child is not born with gifts and traits like intelligence and creativity, he can develop them over time through perseverance and hard work. As such, growth mindset opposes the fundamental ideology of the fixed mindset which basically says that you can’t be good at a thing if you don’t have the prerequisite natural talent for it.
For instance, if a child isn’t good at drawing then according to fixed mindset, that child would never grow up to be an artist or a painter. Growth mindset, however, states that even if a child doesn’t have the natural talent for art, he can become good at it if he has the passion for it and puts in all his effort.
Similarly, a student who loves to create new things but doesn’t have the necessary creativity and intelligence needed for it can’t become an innovator as per the principles of fixed mindset. This isn’t the case if you look at it from a growth mindset perspective. A child can become an inventor if he strives hard and keep on trying to achieve his dream.
Importance of Risk Taking and Failure in Growth Mindset
The biggest failing of the fixed mindset is that it stops a child from trying new things. It dictates that a child should only try things that he is inherently good as he would fail in activities that he doesn’t have a natural talent for. This breeds fear in children and limits their potential. On the other hand, growth mindset eliminates the ideas of fear and failure and encourages children to take risks. After all, a child that doesn’t have a natural talent to do a certain activity is bound to fail at the first attempt. If he gives up after failing once then he won’t be able to grow. This is why becoming fearless and taking risks without thinking about failure is very important in growth mindset.
How Can Teachers and Parents Model Growth Mindset in Children
Teachers in the classroom and parents at home can help in implementing the growth mindset in the children. Parents can help encourage children into trying new things by trying something they haven’t done before with the kids. This would show the children that even their parents aren’t afraid of doing something new and taking risks. Try to teach the kids that failing at something at the first attempt isn’t bad and in fact helps in learning how to do it right. Such activities would help the children in getting over their fear of failure and will help you in modeling growth mindset to them.
Teachers and educators can do a number of things in the classroom to foster growth mindset in the children. The following are some activities that teachers can plan for the kids in class that will help them in overcoming their fears and take risks.
- Genius Hour
Genius hour is an activity in which you can give a free hand to the children to do anything that they please. For an hour each day, let the children try something that they have an interest in. This could spark their creativity and enable them to take risks which they haven’t taken before without any fear of failing. This idea stems from Google where employees dedicate 20% of their time on their own projects. By letting people do what pleases them, increases their productivity. It is said that 50% of Google’s projects have been created during this period.
- Project based learning
By undertaking the whole class, a project (project based learning). In contrast with the genius hour, where students can get involved with any project they like, here a project is chosen which all the class is involved. The project must have a final product (e.g. presentation, theatrical play, book, exhibition) that all students need to research and contribute. The project must be relevant to the students’ life and be presented to an audience. E.g. a scrapbook about the area’s flora etc.
- Focus on Hard Work
Teachers should try to model growth mindset in their students by focusing on the hard work that they are doing instead of praising their intelligence. Don’t say that the child was able to accomplish a task because they are smart or intelligence but because he worked hard for it. This would teach the children that they can achieve anything with hard work and dedication.
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