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6

the ruyton reporter

Self-Theory, Praise and Developing Grit

At the end of 2014 we were fortunate to have Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University present her work on

self-theory to both staff and also parents. Dweck is seen as a world leader in our developing knowledge in regards

to intelligence and the ability to change one’s intelligence based upon an individual’s theory of self. Theories of self

can either be adaptive or maladaptive: Dweck describes them in terms of a growth mindset or a fixed mindset,

respectively. She has also researched the impact of praise on learners and how the type of praise that we give our

students can determine their future learning. Dweck’s work encourages us to focus our attention on the process of

learning, on effort and engagement to create an orientation towards learning. A key focus this year in the Junior

School has been exploring the self-theory, the concept of ‘grit’ or passion and motivation towards achieving a goal.

The difference between a fixed and a growth mindset can be described as follows. People with a fixed mindset view

their abilities, qualities and intelligence as fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent

instead of developing them. They also believe that it is talent which determines success and it has nothing to do with

effort. A growth mindset is the reverse, people believe that their abilities, qualities and talents can be developed

through effort and perseverance, it can be built upon and improved. A growth mindset is focused on the process,

and finding motivation and engagement in the process of learning. This is an intrinsic motivator for future learning.

Students with a growth mindset expect learning to be challenging and enjoy the challenges it presents.

According to Dweck’s research, approximately 40 per cent of people are more inclined towards a growth mindset,

40 per cent are more inclined towards a fixed mindset and 20 per cent of people are undecided. Dweck’s research

provides a welcome challenge to educators committed to personalised learning. Her work is empowering as it

highlights the potential to cultivate adaptive self-theories and to support students in overcoming maladaptive

self-theories.

Self-theory aligns with current research about ‘grit’. This represents a significant shift in how we view intelligence

and, more importantly, learning in schools. It acknowledges that effort has a significant impact on learning and that

encouraging effort and nurturing grit in our students will result in improved learning.

Ms Nicole Ginnane,

Head of Junior School

A Growth Mindset

The Learning Song

It’s not that you can’t do it,

You just can’t do it

yet

.

If you keep going throoooough it,

You’ll get there step by step.

It’s not that you can’t doooo it,

You’re on the learning cuuuuurve,

Put your mind right toooo it,

Please don’t lose your nerve!

Chorus

It’s not that you can’t do it,

You just can’t do it

yet.

If you keep going throoooough it,

You’ll get there step by step.

It’s not that you can’t dooooo it,

Though it seems hard right nooooow,

If you let me heeeelp you,

I can show you how.

Chorus

It’s not that you can’t do it,

You just can’t do it

yet.

If you keep going throooooough it,

You’ll get there step by step.

No sweat!

You’ll get there step by step.

Don’t fret!

You’ll get there step by step.

YOU BET!

Written by

Mrs Helen Tait,

Year 5 teacher