The Magic of the Growth Mindset

Enter the words “Growth Mindset” into Google and you will be met with a myriad of search results on the term that has crept into our vocabulary over the past number of years. For those who are not yet very familiar with the phrase, it is a concept developed by psychologist Carol Dweck, who proposes that people’s abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.

This belief is practiced every day in Montessori classrooms. Only recently in a discussion with one of my students, remarked on how reading is an essential tool for learning. He promptly responded by telling me that another valuable means of learning is failure, and that we should keep trying with something we find difficult and not give up easily. If only I had this insight when I was his age!  

Montessori has long been using the language of Growth Mindset, before the model was developed. Focusing on acknowledging the child’s efforts rather than results is a natural method of instilling confidence and resilience in children. A phrase such as, “I see you’re working hard on that activity,” allows the child to see that the teacher is communicating that they have recognized the child’s efforts; it is not just meaningless praise for its own sake. Should the child need support with an activity, the teacher is always on hand to assist, and can work with the child to develop strategies to solve the problem. With Growth Mindset language, the word “yet” is a signpost for children that they are on their way to learning a new skill not yet mastered, for example: “You cannot tie your shoelaces… yet.” The simple addition of this word encourages and builds resilience in children.  

On the other side of the coin is a “Fixed Mindset,” wherein people believe their intelligence and abilities are fixed. According to research carried out by Carol Dweck, the effects of employing Growth Mindset principles in the classroom as opposed to a Fixed Mindset are higher achievement, increased creativity and a positive attitude to learning. 

The following link provides a brief overview of the concept: 

-Ms. Caoimhe, Learning Support Teacher at Montessori By The Sea

Ms. Caoimhe joined MBTS in August 2019 from Ireland, where she taught for nine years. She has a special interest in Additional Support Needs and completed a Masters in Inclusive Education. Her aim is to instill a love of learning in children and watch them progress through exploring their learning environment.  

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