everything curriculum | January 2018

Here are the differences between the conclusions which flow from the growth mindset core belief and the fixed mindset one:

Fixed mindset: Intelligence, talent and ability are fixed.

Leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to:

• Avoid challenges • Give up easily due to obstacles • See effort as fruitless • Ignore useful feedback • Be threatened by others’ success

Growth mindset: Intelligence, talent and ability are open to change.

Leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to:

• Embrace challenges • Persist despite obstacles • See effort as the path to mastery • Learn from criticism • Be inspired by others’ success

So what can we do to promote growth mindsets?

How can we help our learners to see themselves as open to change? Here are five simple ideas to try:

1. Think about the language you use Analyse the language you use in the classroom – written and verbal. Are you unwittingly promoting the view that intelligence is fixed? What language could you use to promote growth mindset characteristics?

2. Minimise the costs of failure Make it clear that getting things wrong is part of learning. Help children understand that this is often a sign that the level of challenge is quite high – which is a good thing. Bring in your old school books and show your children that you used to get things wrong too.

3. Celebrate mistakes Make a distinction between good mistakes and careless mistakes. The former being mistakes from which we learn. Create a good mistakes wall and invite children to put their useful mistakes on here during the course of the week.

4. Show children the results of their targeted efforts Lead a reflection in which you help children to see the different results which come from trying and not trying. Use this to demonstrate to all children that if they target their effort and persist they can change what they are capable of doing.

5. Talk in terms of ‘yet’ As in…you say you can’t do it, but I say you can’t do it yet!


Mike Gershon is a trainer, writer, and consultant as well as a YPO CPD tutor. Visit for bestselling books, training and free teaching resources. Also visit for 50 free growth mindset articles.

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