September 18, 2017

Embracing a Growth Mindset

Our school principal is outstanding. A clear communicator, she is intentional about what she says and how she says it. She has embraced the Growth Mindset approach to learning and development and is sharing with students, teachers, and parents what that means and looks like.

Rather than fuel a school climate where children shut down when confronted with challenging tasks or fear errors, our principal and her teaching staff remind students to breathe and recognize that if they haven't mastered something, they just aren't there yet. This encourages everyone to dig in and approach learning with a confidence and enthusiasm many of us aren't accustomed to--at least not when the learning appears or feels hard. Psychologist Carol Dweck speaks more about her research in this Ted Talk:

Though I'm still not convinced that any sort of mindset would have helped me in my high school trigonometry class, I've seen our daughter try harder and push through when I reference the "power of yet" as she is asked to organize her bursting bedroom or dig into a tough academic challenge. And because her principal introduced her to these concepts and her teachers are applying the concept in her classrooms, it's resonating.

The growth mindset approach is well aligned with meditation and mindfulness neuroscience research and practices, too. Being present and open we acknowledge that we are exactly who we need to be, where we need to be, and when we need to be. We trust that we are sufficiently capable and adaptable. We know that we have the power to take another look at a challenge, examine and transmute our emotions, and shift or dissolve any stories about ourselves that may cause us to think, act, or believe in rigid and fixed ways. And perhaps most importantly, we are gentle with ourselves, as we understand that self-examination and personal motivation are ongoing processes of discovery and practice. Thomas Edison reminds us: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." He also inspires with, “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

I'd love to hear from you about your experiences with and opinions about grit and growth mindset in education and any of the ways you see an overlap with mindfulness and meditation.  Please comment~