Have you ever heard the expression “the brain gets tired before the body,” when out for a run? The same could be said when it comes to learning— sort of. A lot more of our aptitude in education is determined by our mental and emotional health and mindsets than is given credit. In recent years, education researchers have proven the value of employing a particular type of positive mindset as a catalyst for learning in young students.
Dr. Carol Dweck and her colleagues began researching student’s attitudes towards failure decades ago. Almost immediately, here was an interesting dichotomy observed amongst students; some were easily deterred by setbacks while their peers quickly bounced back. Eventually, Dr. Dweck and her colleagues developed the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset,” do describe these two propensities. As it turns out, Dr. Dweck’s research had massive implications on education research. Most notably, many researchers posited that when students believe they can learn more, they recognize that effort is their means of getting there. Consequently, students invest additional time and effort and experience higher achievement. You can see Dweck deliver a TedTalk on the value of growth mindsets.
Cultivating a growth mindset is the gift that keeps on giving, but below are five of the biggest benefits.
1. Recognize and Confront Weaknesses
When students are equipped with a growth mindset, they’re more apt to embrace their weaknesses and overcome them. Growth mindsets allow students to see failures and deficiencies as an opportunity to learn and improve their skills.
Once you remove the “boogeyman” of failure from school, students become increasingly confident in their studies. Moreover, when we emphasize learning and growth over achievement, learning becomes self-driven, allowing students to find their worth in education. Education researchers have also shown feeling confident in learning environments is pivotal in student motivation.
3. Increased Flexibility
Roadblocks of every variety are sure to appear on any learning journey. Students with growth mindsets accept and adapt to the challenge, a consequence of not fearing failure. Students with strong self-confidence are better suited for dealing with novel and unexpected problems.
4. Greater Creativity
Crafting a growth mindset will make you a more creative problem-solver. When we approach problems with greater confidence and openness, we’re likely to see solutions we otherwise wouldn’t. Have you ever noticed the way solutions to hard problems come to us in the shower or bed? That’s not just by elapsed time, it’s also because you’re relaxed. When stressed or fearful, creativity is stifled. Growth mindsets allow us to access brilliant and creative shower-thoughts while taking a test, or doing our homework!
4. You’ll Get Closer
When we shed the anxiety-inducing habit of basing our self-worth on our achievements, we become more open with other people. Anecdotally, this has been demonstrated in classrooms at Tip-Top Brain. By virtue of instructors focusing on failure as an opportunity gained rather than lost, students are much more honest and open with their instructors. The insecurity failure can cause to fester can make students more reserved, and critical of their shortcomings. Once students manage to shift their perspective on failure and see it as a chance to grow, they can be more honest with themselves and their friends and families.
We have all been told over and over again, the power of positive thinking. Chances are, we’ve even learned it, and preached it ourselves. From time to time, we forget the importance of having a healthy mindset that serves us. However, young learners must develop positive mindsets early on, for the sake of their education and their health. Forging a healthy relationship with failure is challenging, but like many things, younger people are more inclined to learning than older folk. No less, failure is abundant as ever as a kid, so there’s no time like the present.