The key issue about providing for children is to ensure they have diverse ways of finding success. As this excellent blog makes clear, there is no magic wand available and no simple short cut we forgot was there. Children need their peer group to be secure, their teachers to believe in them come what may and be willing to work with both peers and teachers to uncover the tools and master the skills needed for mastery. As Dan Pink has it, the motivation for success comes from relationships, autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Whether discussed under the guise of ‘resilience’, ‘grit’ or ‘character’, there appears to be a great appetite for psychologically manipulating pupils’ personalities or their attributions about school. One concept which has particularly captured the imagination of teachers and school leaders is ‘growth mindset’: the idea that children who possess incremental theories of intellect (a growth mindset) appear to achieve better grades than those who possess an entity theory of intellect (a fixed mindset).
The claim that there are attributional differences between pupils which can affect their experience of school and their academic outcomes is well supported. You can read a bit more about some of the psychology behind the idea of a ‘growth mindset’ here: Growth Mindset: It’s not magic
However, accepting that these key attributional variables exist still leaves at least two important questions that school leaders and teachers should be asking before seeking to implement ‘growth mindset’ interventions…
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