How often have we said the following to a child who is struggling with a particular subject, thinking we were being helpful: ‘Don’t worry, I was never very good at Maths [or English, French, Science etc.] either. Sometimes our brains just aren’t wired that way.’
There is a growing school of thought that intelligence and ability are, in fact, not fixed. Brains and talent are just the starting point for us all and, with effort and dedication, intelligence can be grown as the brain continues to develop over the course of our lives. This idea is known as the ‘Growth Mindset’.
According to Stanford University Professor, Dr Carol Dweck, if we teach to the Growth Mindset theory, we develop in our students the belief that their basic abilities, such as intelligence or talent, can be developed through dedication and hard work. This is very empowering for a young person.
Growth Mindset at Kilvington
Growth Mindset is a fundamental principle at Kilvington. We believe that intelligence is not fixed and that with hard work, persistence and support, students can see improvement in all subject areas. This is supported by the language used in the classroom by staff. If a student says: ‘I’m no good at science’ or ‘I just don’t understand that’, staff will challenge that language with the goal to move students to a growth mindset where the word ‘yet’ is added to the end of those negative claims. Additional support is provided and strategies are developed to help overcome a fixed mindset.
Underpinning this approach in the Junior School classroom are subject or skills Growth Ladders. This is a process which helps students to become independent learners, able to move themselves onto the next level of their learning. This is aided by the use of a ‘move me on’ matrix which plots a student’s development. At each learning milestone the student determines how they will move to the next level of understanding and complexity. We are currently in the process of introducing this in the Senior School.