A key concept which shapes the ethos of our school is growth mindsets based on the work of Carol Dweck. Rather than simply praising success we praise effort and persistence.
We believe the best thing to do is to teach children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. For children who find work easy we make sure they encounter more difficult tasks. Our children recognise that effort, persistence and good teaching are what help them improve .
This approach links with how we mark work and give feedback too: we always mark giving ‘prompts for improvement’ in writing and ‘next steps’ in maths so that all learning for all children, even the very brightest, is seen as a way to grow. If children have fixed mindsets they find it hard to cope with failure: we teach our children to see mistakes and failure as positive. This makes for a very energetic and inclusive culture. It also has a really positive effect on our ethos and on how children approach learning and support each other for example, you won’t find charts on the wall listing times table results in rank order or stars for behaviour; we don’t have set ability groups that are fixed for the year; children strive to improve their PB (personal best) in times table tests rather than seeing coming top as the goal.
A quote from Carol Dweck:
“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
This is important because (1) individuals with a “growth” theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and (2) individuals’ theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues. For example, children given praise such as “good job, you’re very smart” are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if given compliments like “good job, you worked very hard” they are likely to develop a growth mindset. In other words, it is possible to encourage students, for example, to persist despite failure by encouraging them to think about learning in a certain way.”