Recently, SHARP has been actively incorporating into its curricula the “growth mindset” philosophy. Growth mindset helps students experience school as an exciting place to grow, embracing challenges as opportunities to develop mastery. Learning becomes a joyful and constructive process. Students with a growth mindset are more motivated and engaged even when work is challenging. It is exciting!
Students with a growth mindset believe their intelligence can be developed. Through effort, good teaching, perseverance, and practice, their abilities can improve. We might hear them say, “Math is hard, but if I keep trying, I can get better at it.” Students with a growth mindset see mistakes as ways to learn, embrace challenges, and persist in the face of setbacks.
In contrast, students with a fixed mindset believe their intelligence and talent are innate traits that don’t change. They believe intelligence is a fixed trait, set in stone at birth. We might hear them say, “I just can’t learn math.” These students typically worry about not looking smart, grow upset when they make mistakes, and often give up sooner on tough tasks.
Both high and low-performing students can have either mindset.
We encourage teachers to create opportunities for students to learn that often there are many correct answers, and impress that students are free to test ideas and will not be punished when things are wrong. Because students with a growth mindset are more motivated and engaged, even when work is challenging, are more likely to review or revise their work, score better on standardized tests, fail fewer classes and have higher GPAs, and are more likely to persist in high school and college.
SHARP’s work with growth mindset also occurs through our professional development with teachers. We believe that teachers creating classroom habits that help students feel comfortable with growth mindset, those teachers will have an enormous impact. SHARP strives to model growth mindset techniques so teachers can utilize them throughout the school year. As an example, the collaborative art projects in all our workshops have no single correct answer. Students are asked to try techniques they have not tried before – weaving or working with pastels. Students become comfortable with the discomfort of trying new things.
For us, the growth mindset development is stimulating and energizing. We believe it will help propel SHARP into the forefront of Milwaukee and Waukesha’s education. But most importantly, it is helping the kids! This is all possible because of the support we receive from generous, thoughtful people like you. Thank you!
Lynda Kohler and Tom Mroczkowski