Growth Mindset

How does growth mindset enable Sreenidhi to be the best school in Hyderabad?

Are you growing or have a fixed mindset?
Are you both?
Do you need to change your mindset?

These thoughts are inspired by the author/journalist, Matthew Syed (Black Box Thinking and Bounce), and researcher Carol Dweck.

What does it mean to have a growth mindset in a world class learning environment?

If you’re in the fixed mindset, you think it’s all about what’s given to you when you’re born. And you can’t do much about that. It’s in your DNA, you’ve either got it or you haven’t. And that creates two types of behaviours. For example, if you’re in the fixed mindset, you think it’s all about what you were born with, and you think you’re pretty good, you think you’ve got some talent, whatever it might be, maths, football, you think you’re going to go right to the top based on your ability. You think you’ll rise to the top because that’s what’s in your genes and people tell you that. You’re amazing, you’re brilliant! It’s in your DNA!

But what happens? People with that mindset tend to take their foot off the gas. They think they don’t need to work hard, because they’ve got the talent. They get really fearful of losing that label. If it’s all about talent and somebody said you’re super-talented, you don’t want to lose that! Hard work is for people who’ve got no talent, so I don’t want to start to have to be seen to be working hard! That’s for people without any talent. So they start to shy away from challenges, fearful that it will expose them to not being quite as talented as everybody thinks they are. So people who think it’s all about talent, and they’ve got the talent, often get very fearful.

Equally, if you’re in the fixed mindset and you think it’s all about talent, what if you haven’t got it? How often have you heard someone say I don’t have a brain for numbers? I haven’t got the hand-eye coordination for tennis? I can’t draw! How often do you hear things like that? If you haven’t got the hand-eye coordination for tennis now, or you haven’t got a brain for numbers now, and you think it’s fixed, there’s definitely no point in putting any effort in. Because you won’t be better at it tomorrow, or in six months time, or in six years time because it’s fixed. So people who think talent is fixed and they haven’t got it don’t put the effort in either.

A fixed mindset can be detrimental to people’s willingness to put in effort, to want to take up a challenge, to want to come out of their comfort zone. Whereas people in the growth mindset think that actually, challenge, hard work, effort, determination changes the shape of your brain. They realize their abilities are not fixed. They can improve, if they’re willing to challenge themselves. Once you conceptualize success in that way, you’re much more likely to want to go on that journey, because you know it’s your effort that’s getting you to the top, not your genes. So people in the growth mindset are much more willing to take on new challenges. They’re much more resilient when they fail, because they see it as an opportunity to learn. People in the growth mindset don’t mind if they make a mistake, because they know that that’s how they get better at something. This fosters creativity and innovation.

If you’re in a fixed mindset and think you haven’t got it – haven’t got a brain for numbers or whatever – there is no point in putting the effort in. And that’s why being in the growth mindset is highly correlated with high performance. The culture of learning at Sreenidhi International School focuses on strategies to develop a growth mindset, maximising the joy of learning and the existing IB advantage.

Growth mindset isn’t the new positive thinking or something fluffy. It is based on hard science, and evidence based research, through many randomised control trials led by Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. She has spent the best part of 25 years researching this concept and its correlation with high performance. People with a growth mindset are much more likely to want to improve, much more able to take feedback and learn from their mistakes. If we get everyone in that mindset, everybody will elevate performance.

Can everyone be Roger Federer or VVS Laxman? No, because talent isn’t irrelevant. So what’s the point? It is very useful in a school context because if everybody is performing at a higher level, that’s better for Sreenidhi and the students.

Future blogs on Growth Mindset will discuss progressive strategies used at Sreenidhi to move students, teachers and parents from fixed to growth mindsets.

Author Name : Malcolm Nicolson