You are probably reading this article because you heard someone talk of the growth mindset and how important it is for adults and kids alike. What is a growth mindset? Why is it important? How can we help our kids and students inculcate it early in life?
A mindset is about how we perceive the world around us and our place in it. Growth mindset is where we believe that we have the potential to grow, that our intelligence and abilities can be improved with the right strategies over time. A willingness to confront challenges and embrace them, a passion and zeal for learning, and looking at failure as a foundation for growth are all characteristics associated with a growth mindset. In a fixed mindset people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. And that’s far from the truth!
From the above mentioned definitions of the two contrasting mindsets, it is obvious why encouraging a growth mindset among children could lead to a more positive outlook in them, and help them achieve greater success in their lives.
In her book, Prof. Carol Dweck argues convincingly that having a growth mindset helps children develop the necessary self-motivation required to set them up for continued learning and progress throughout their lives.
A growth mindset also encourages children to have a never-say-die attitude in the face of failure, a determination to succeed in the face of difficulty, and the ability to accept mistakes as stepping stones for success. Quite clearly, a growth mindset is one of the most valuable attitudes that we can nurture within our kids.
The growth mindset activities provide the right platform for students to inculcate a growth mindset and make it part of their everyday lives. Irrespective of whether you're doing them at home or in the classroom, they provide fun as well as stimulating avenues to imbibe the growth mindset in the younger years.
Activity 1: Put them on the board!
Materials required: Bulletin board, pins, chart paper, colour pencils and pens, scissors
Ask students to divide the bulletin board into two parts and fill one side with quotes related to fixed mindset and the other with quotes on growth mindset by writing them out on chart paper and cutting them. To make the difference stark, you may ask them to use black colour for fixed mindset and bright colours for the growth mindset quotes. Ask them to consciously categorize all their thoughts into these two mindsets and move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Initially it may seem hard to do, but once it becomes a part of their thinking and attitude, they will be surprised at how it comes to them naturally. Here are some quotes you can use:
|FIXED MINDSET||GROWTH MINDSET|
|I don’t want to do this!||Let me try this.|
|I give up!||I’ll try a few more times.|
|No point in putting in the effort, I just don’t have the capability.||Let me put in some effort. It doesn’t matter even if I fail this time|
|I’m really bad at this, and I can't do anything about it.||I’m not great at this, but I can definitely become better at it if I try.|
|I won’t attempt this because I will end up exposing my flaws and weaknesses to others.||I don’t mind asking questions that may seem silly or foolish, as long as I learn something.|
|I’m perfect the way I am, I don't need to change or improve.||There’s always scope for improvement. I’m willing to change based on feedback.|
Activity 2: 3-2-1
Materials required: Paper, pen
At the end of every two weeks, ask students to write down three things that they attempted but did not successfully complete, two things that they will pick up again and work on, and one thing that they will master. Celebrate success as well as failure. Help them face failure gracefully and work on it to succeed the next time. Growth mindset, here we come, in 3-2-1…!
Activity 3: What would you do?
Materials required: A large bowl or box
Ask students to write a challenging situation they were in (or that they can come up with), on a piece of paper and drop it into a box. Once all students have done this, ask each student to come to the front, pick up a chit, read out the situation and talk of how one can overcome the situation through a growth mindset. Allow other students to pitch in, once this student has spoken.
Activity 4: Circles of learning
Materials required: Chart paper, scissors, pens, cellotape
Draw out circles made of chart paper (one for each student) and stick them along the walls of the classroom. Ask students to write down one thing that they have learnt or will learn this week. It could be something as simple as learning to make a cup of coffee or wrap their book in brown paper, or a bigger skill like learning to ride a bicycle. Assign points to them on having learnt what they wanted to learn that week, as well as points for trying and not yet learning, and hence moving the task to the next week. Growth mindset is all about perseverance and believing that one can learn or achieve what they have set out to. Encourage them to attempt again and use the learnings of the past week.
Activity 5: Have you played it “yet”?
Materials required: Paper, pen
This activity brings out the power of the word “yet”. It isn’t merely a word, but an attitude that students will cultivate that promotes a growth mindset. Ask students to note down a few tasks that they have not completed or accomplished. It could be things like “I have not learnt swimming”, “I do not know any foreign language”- anything small or big. Once they have written it down ask any student to come forward and read out their lines. Ask the student to read the same lines by adding the word “yet” at the end of each line- “I have not learnt swimming yet”,”I do not know any foregin language yet”. Ask the student how they perceive this. Discuss with the whole class about the power of “yet”, the perspective it provides and the feeling that everything is achievable, and one just needs to get to it. Ask all students to read out their lines using “yet”.
The Math experts at Cuemath firmly believe in developing a growth mindset in children and design tailor-made courses to ensure that each one of them reach their true potential. Cuemath conducts Live Online Math classes.
-By Kshama Chakravarthy
Kshama heads the teacher curriculum team at Cuemath. She has a masters degree in Mathematics and Education- two of her major passions. She has been in the field of Math education for over 11 years now and has donned many hats, from designing and developing curriculum to teaching students to training teachers. She enjoys being in the midst of nature in her free time and tries to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle.