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Growth mindset not working? Maybe you've got False Growth Mindset

(63 Posts)
noblegiraffe Mon 19-Dec-16 08:40:31

Or you're saying you've got a growth mindset when secretly you don't. Or you've got a growth mindset about English but not about maths.

Or maybe you've wholeheartedly jumped on another faddish bandwagon when a bit of common sense and fewer fancy labels would be better?

www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/12/how-praise-became-a-consolation-prize/510845/

SaltyMyDear Mon 19-Dec-16 08:47:29

So F*** sick of growth mindset.

School are using it as an excuse to not tell me - or my DD - how she's doing. Because the only thing that matters is whether she's trying or not confused

And this is in Y9 - not primary. A whole report and parents eve when not a single teacher would tell me if she was making progress, or even what her current attainment was. The only thing they'd tell me she was 'average' for effort.

I totally agree with the article that telling someone who did badly, 'It's OK, you tried your best' is BS and patronising and not helpful.

I also like Alfie Kohn's take on Growth Mindset: www.alfiekohn.org/article/mindset/

Rockpebblestone Mon 19-Dec-16 08:58:37

It seems like a whole re-packaging of the old 'nature, nurture debate'.

'Growth mindset' acknowledging the importance of 'nurture' and the more 'fixed mindset' acknowledging the effect of nature.

What I think can be really limiting is the predictive element in the education system. Really all I want to know is attainment. It is up to the individual how far they can progress, not some algorithm. Encourage, by all means, point out 'next steps' in learning but please do not attempt to say much an individual will acheive.

Rockpebblestone Mon 19-Dec-16 09:00:11

...how much. Typo.

noblegiraffe Mon 19-Dec-16 09:13:48

I think it can be quite toxic to tell a struggling child that the reason they're doing badly compared to their peers is because they've got the wrong mindset and they aren't trying hard enough.

And then when the child argues that they do have the right mindset and they are trying but it's still not working, then attributing the child's failure to their incorrect assessment of their mindset, rather than reassessing the whole 'growth mindset' idea.

Maybe when growth mindset doesn't work it's because there's a problem with 'growth mindset'?

Rockpebblestone Mon 19-Dec-16 09:28:29

I think nothing beats teaching a 'struggling' child the concepts they need to grasp in order to progress. Being encouraging when they acheive each, no matter how minor, breakthrough. Perhaps pointing out behaviours, when they occur, which are not conducive to learning in a kind way, if necessary and encouraging behaviours which are conducive to learning.

SaltyMyDear Mon 19-Dec-16 10:11:20

Noble - yes. The way growth mindset has been implemented by lots of schools is just telling dyslexic children if they tried harder they'd learn to read (for example)

It kind of encourages the opposite of growth. It's school believing if you try as hard as you can you'll achieve the grade you're meant to get. Which is very self limiting and isn't true at all.

If you try very hard but at the wrong thing you won't do well. I.e you can put loads of effort into making a poster but still learn nothing.

'Work smarter not harder' has escaped them.

noblegiraffe Mon 19-Dec-16 10:20:07

There's nothing wrong with the idea that if you work harder you can get better at something.

There is something wrong with the idea that only if you worked hard enough you could be as good at something as the best person.

Windanddrizzle Mon 19-Dec-16 10:22:06

Interesting blog here

disidealist.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/242/

SaltyMyDear Mon 19-Dec-16 11:59:18

There are occasions where the idea that working harder gets you better at something is wrong - particularly for SEN pupils.

Again, the obvious case is learning to read. If you have dyslexia you don't learn to read by working harder.

You're a maths teacher. You mush know children with dyscalculia who don't get better at maths by working harder. Whatever they learn today is forgotten tomorrow no matter how hard they work today.....

But what does 'working harder' even mean? It's really not a well defined term. I suspect most of your struggling pupils don't know what you actually mean when you tell them to work harder.

SaltyMyDear Mon 19-Dec-16 12:02:35

Interesting link just came up in my Facebook feed:

In every country, the memorizers turned out to be the lowest achievers, and countries with high numbers of them—the U.S. was in the top third—also had the highest proportion of teens doing poorly on the PISA math assessment. Further analysis showed that memorizers were approximately half a year behind students who used relational and self-monitoring strategies. In no country were memorizers in the highest-achieving group, and in some high-achieving economies, the differences between memorizers and other students were substantial. In France and Japan, for example, pupils who combined self-monitoring and relational strategies outscored students using memorization by more than a year’s worth of schooling.

ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/12/18/what-can-we-learn-from-countries-that-effectively-teach-math/

So if your pupils / teachers interpret 'working harder' as 'memorising more' then they'll not make as much progress as if they were doing some other things with their revision time.....

This is the real problem. 'Working Harder' is not defined.

JustRichmal Mon 19-Dec-16 12:30:12

This is an interesting debate. Thank you for starting it Noble.

I think some of the problem is that our society is now so used to soundbites that with "praise effort not achievement", being so much easier than reading a body of work, that is all that gets passed on. Education cannot be put into neat little soundbites for us all to follow.

We ask is it nature or nurture because that is so much easier than trying to unfold the complicated way in which the two interact. All I think is nature is what you are born with, you cannot do anything to alter it. Whereas nurture is malleable, so why not work with that.

Of course giving a child confidence they can improve with work is better than saying they have reached their limit. Likewise giving the child the unrealistic expectation that if only they tried harder they would excel so they are just not trying hard enough is stupid. Extremes on both sides of anything are usually ridiculous.

fitzbilly Mon 19-Dec-16 13:16:31

The more effort you put into something the better you will be and the closer you will be to fulfilling your potential. That's what growth mindset is about.

megletthesecond Mon 19-Dec-16 13:20:27

10yr old did origami and growth mindset the other week. Will have to read those links.

TeenAndTween Mon 19-Dec-16 13:22:36

Interesting article.

I've tried very hard to link effort put in to improvement in results for my DDs. (Despite DD being very black and white about things). However we all accept that however hard they try they are not going to be top of the class, but they can still improve from where they are.

Salty's school is ridiculous. If a child is trying hard that's great, but if you don't know they are on track to fail their maths or English, how can you put in extra support for them?

Namejustfornappies Mon 19-Dec-16 13:30:38

But isn't it based on basically trying to promote resilience? But without actually calling it resilience.
Promote and praise achievement - those who didn't achieve may give up or be demotivated next time.
Promote and praise effort - those who tried really hard, but still can't, get extremely demotivated.
Promote and praise resilience - ie gosh you tried really hard there, with more practice you will be "x" much better blah blah blah. Or - you did really well there, well done, but don't get complacent, keep trying because we are moving onto "x". Have a go at "y" and see if that challenges you. Blah blah blah.
What's wrong with that? (Probably loads, but it seems to work)

noblegiraffe Mon 19-Dec-16 14:23:51

No. Dweck did a bunch of research that split people into two groups, those with a fixed mindset (belief that intelligence is fixed, that some people are just good at things etc - this is BAD) and those with a growth mindset (belief that if only I work hard enough I can become as good at something as the best person). Apparently people with growth mindsets are more resilient.

Then she did a load of interventions to see if you could change people with a fixed mindset into having a growth mindset. Then to see if this led to improved outcomes. Apparently it did.

No one has been able to replicate her research, which is a problem. So instead of abandoning the idea, she has now come up with the idea of a 'False Growth Mindset' to try to account for the fact that sometimes growth mindsets do not appear to be improving outcomes.

This is not science. This is a fudge.

noblegiraffe Mon 19-Dec-16 14:55:02

I did some fiddly paper folding with a class recently. It was really interesting to see that some kids in the class were good at it and made the object really quickly. Some weren't so good but managed after a lot more time and swearing. Some kids tried for about two seconds, then threw the thing down in disgust and refused to have anything more to do with it.

Who has the right mindset? Did the kids who threw it down have the wrong mindset? Something was wrong, lack of patience? Resilience? Not their kind of thing? If they'd been handed something else tricky, but more appealing to their interests would they have stuck at it? I don't know.

What I did find interesting was that I had made the damn thing the night before. My strengths do not lie in the creative field, and also the instructions were unclear. I tried really hard and gave up after about 20 minutes of wrangling. But what kept me going? I was looking for something else to do with the class and came across someone on Twitter saying 'awesome activity, my Y7s just made a bunch of these, it worked really well'. Well, if a bunch of Y7s could do it, then surely so could I. I went back to it, figured out where I was going wrong and finished it. So do I have a fixed mindset? A growth mindset? Did my mindset change halfway through the task?

I don't think pigeonholing people is helpful. Encouraging resilience is good, praising effort is good, but so is also showing them that a target is attainable.

There was a poll on Twitter recently, 'do you think that anyone, with enough work, could get an A* at maths A-level'. 25% of respondents said yes. confused. I wonder how much work they were imagining.

JustRichmal Mon 19-Dec-16 17:17:34

I had assumed that because Carol Dweck is at Stanford, her research had stood up to scientific scrutiny. I admit I have only ever read articles containing her conclusions, but I thought it was more than "Men are from Mars..." type of wisdom.

roundtable Mon 19-Dec-16 17:30:46

Growth Mindset is what make time deaf singers singers appear on The X Factor thinking they are amazing.

Perseverance is great and should be encouraged but I wonder where growth mindset leaves children/adults with SEN or say with autism. Are they lesser because they don't have a growth mindset? I think not.

Why can't we just talk about perseverance and resilience or even positive attitudes. Or even what to do when you don't feel that way.

A friend of mine who is a therapist thinks CBT should be taught in schools (by qualified therapists) to give practical advice to help children with their mental health.

I'm inclined to agree with her. Not laminated posters all over a school asking 'Do you have a Growth Mindset?'

roundtable Mon 19-Dec-16 17:31:12

Tone deaf

Namejustfornappies Mon 19-Dec-16 21:09:27

Finally got around to reading those links properly.
Thanks for explaining noble - I had an inset session on it a couple of years ago, but didn't really take it in (was sooooo sleep deprived with dd1 it was like being permanently drunk).
I always remember reading some research on what makes a reasonable, good, or exceptional violinist. They were trying to find what makes "talent". If I remember correctly all they found was hours of practice. Ie the more practice, the better the violinist. Just that.

SaltyMyDear Tue 20-Dec-16 06:29:37

Name - even the '10,000 hours practice' theory has now been discredited. They now think getting to the top requires 10,000 hours plus talent smile

Wonderflonium Tue 20-Dec-16 07:02:30

I think that it's typical of education that this research has been generalised and badly applied.

We all know students who just give up because they didn't experience easy success at the first try. And we know students who see getting things wrong as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Since you're never going to get any better if you quit, the second type of student is usually going to get better.... but changing one type of student into another: how's that work again? Just by saying "Oh well, you tried your best! That's all that matters!" ? Ugh. "You know what you need, right? A GROWTH mindset!" Problem solved(!)

It reminds me of AfL. What a wonderful, groundbreaking system to improve learning in all classrooms! Translated into compulsory time wasting "strategies" that made little to no difference to any learner.

Namejustfornappies Tue 20-Dec-16 08:32:16

Salty - seems everything I know is wrong grin
Ah well, I still got excellent results in our top performing comp (generally in the top 2 added value in our department - which included 2 ASTs). So that's some consolation.

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