Parkway e-News Story

The Power of a Growth Mindset for Your Child

By Desi Kirchhofer

Developing the right mindset can make all the difference.

One of the most important things people do every day is select their attitude.  How you choose to view the world is completely up to you.

In Parkway, many administrators, teachers, and even some students are reading and discussing the work of Stanford Professor Carol Dweck.  In her book, Mindset: the New Psychology of Education, Dweck challenges the notion that intelligence is “fixed” and that a person’s talent, skills and capabilities are predetermined and limited. In fact, she offers a completely opposite approach on life and encourages readers to adopt a “growth mindset.” A growth mindset supports the belief that all people can continue to grow and learn regardless of their inherent skills and talents.

Yes, natural talent and intelligence are indeed important contributing factors to an individual’s success, but with the growth mindset they are merely starting points that will be greatly enhanced as a result of effort and persistence.

With effort and hard work ALL of our students can and will improve.  As parents and teachers, we can foster and support that improvement.

To help instill a growth mindset:
So often, teachers and parents will hear phrases such as “I’m just no good at math” or “It doesn’t matter how much I try I’ll never understand it.”  These are examples of what Dweck refers to as a “fixed mindset” and can be catastrophic to an individual’s belief in his/her growth and learning.

The next time your child does well on a school assignment consider praising them for hard work and effort rather than praising their intelligence or natural ability.

That type of reinforcement might sound something like, “Great job - I am so proud of how hard you worked on this project” rather than “Great job - you are so smart/good at math.”

Parkway’s Mission and Vision has always been grounded in the growth mindset.  In fact, one of our adopted learning principles reads that learners “realize the capacity to learn is not fixed; ability and understanding can always improve.”

Key differences between a Fixed” and Growth mindset:

A Fixed Mindset  
Sees intelligence as static   
Avoids challenges    
Gives up easily     
Believes effort gets you nowhere  
Ignores negative feedback   
Feels little or no control   

A Growth Mindset

Views intelligence as dynamic
Embraces challenges as opportunities to grow
Persists through difficulties
Thinks effort = mastery
Learns from criticism
Believes in free will

As an educator and parent, I believe the philosophy of the growth mindset is exciting and opens a new way of thinking for many of our students.  To me, the growth mindset provides unprecedented hope and affords that all learners, young and old have a never-ending potential to learn and grow.

Perhaps the best news of all is that having a growth mindset is a choice. 

What’s your mindset?

To learn more about mindset go to http://mindsetonline.com

Desi Kirchhofer, Deputy Superintendent, Parkway Schools