Teaching and Learning Growth Mindset Blog

30 August 2022
Teaching and Learning

Head of Junior School - Mrs Keera Job


I have grit and I don’t quit! I have grit and I don’t quit!

If someone has grit, they have the determination to continue doing something even though it is difficult. Angela Duckworth talks about grit in her research as being more significant for students in terms of reaching their full potential than for having the highest IQ, the best skills or to get straight A-grades. Grit is related to mindset in that if our students believe that failures are due to their fixed traits, there is no reason to try again. In all my readings there is a strong correlation between grit and having a 'Growth Mindset'.

'Growth Mindset' is a concept developed by Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. It is the belief that a person’s abilities and intelligence can be developed through practice, hard work, dedication and motivation. Grit! The opposite to this is a 'Fixed Mindset', or that our intelligence and natural gifts and talents alone lead to success.

Children with 'Growth Mindsets' are more likely to:

  • Learn from their mistakes
  • Take risks
  • Seek feedback
  • Show increased engagement and effort
  • Take challenges head on
  • Learn more, and learn faster.

Big Life Journal shares a wealth of resources and parent guides to a 'Growth Mindset' looking at showing praise for effort, strategies used, hard work and persistence. They talk about the power of ‘Not Yet’ and that our brains and bodies can grow, therefore our skills and understanding can too.

Giles Andreae’s book Giraffe’s Can’t Dance is a beautiful book you can share with your children to guide them towards having a 'Growth Mindset' and understanding the power of 'Not Yet'. This story shares the initial assumption that ability is based on appearances and current ability (or lack thereof!). Gerald the giraffe just wants to dance, but his knees are crooked and his legs are thin – dancing just doesn’t come naturally. Fed up with the jeers and sneers from the other animals, Gerald turns to a negative fixed mindset. He quickly learns, with the help of Cricket, that everyone can dance, with practise, and when they find the right music. 

Research shows that parents can also have a powerful impact on their children’s mindsets. Taking time to praise the process, accepting mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow and understanding the roles of our emotions in learning are all things we can model and share with our children. Mindset Works have some great examples of ‘What to Say’ to help your child develop a 'Growth Mindset':

  • “I can see you worked hard on this!”
  • “What a creative way to solve that problem!”
  • “You don’t know it yet. But if you learn and practise, you will!”
  • “You can learn from your mistakes.”• “Let’s see what other strategies you can try.”
  • “What did you do today that made you think hard?”
  • “What new strategies did you try?”

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