The emergence of growth mindset and developing grit

They might sound like buzzwords, but the concept of a growth mindset and the development of mental grit are based on sound psychological principles that can be applied to an educational setting.

The growth mindset

Carol Dweck is a professor of Psychology at Stanford University whose research interests lie primarily in personality, motivation, and development. She has developed a theory that is especially pertinent in the realm of education. Her work has shown that students and other individuals are able to change or develop their mindsets, from ones that might be hindering their progress to ones that allow them to live up to their potential.

Some growth mindset factors that can have a particular effect in an educational setting involve students’ goals, their beliefs about themselves, social connectedness and self-regulatory skills.

Developing grit

Researcher Angela Duckworth, who has delivered a TEDtalk with more than 8 million views and who has a professional interest in finding out why some individuals are able to achieve more than others with the same basic talent and resources, says grit is characterized by “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”.

There is some area of overlap between the two concepts, and a growth mindset can help individuals to develop grit and resilience.

There are a number of ways to achieve this. Teachers can use specific language, for example, to encourage children to persevere. Simply telling a child they are clever encourages a fixed mindset. If they are constantly told they are smart, any failure can badly impact their self-image; whereas praising effort and encouraging development can help foster grit and resilience.

It’s been suggested that surrounding yourself with resilient people can help foster your own perseverance and grit, so adopting these principles in the classroom could potentially help the whole class. Encouraging children to set small short-term goals en route to realizing a larger objective, alongside supporting them taking time for reflection and adopting flexible thinking patterns can also help them to achieve a growth mindset and develop their grit.

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