With the most honorable of intentions, hundreds if not thousands of headteachers and senior leaders will be giving the old ‘Growth Mindset’ assembly this half term. Preparing our students – in particular the poor sods in Year 11 – for the gruelling revision and exams to come.
The most frequent messages that I’ve encountered seem to be ‘if you get knocked down, get back up again’ and ‘you can do anything so long as you don’t give up’.
I think our children regularly see through this. I’ll give you an example: I know very well that I’m not going to win a fight against Mike Tyson not matter how hard I try, and once he’s hit me a couple of times I’d probably be reluctant to get back up again. And life can be a bit like this with our students trying really hard to do big things but failing repeatedly.
It’s the journey we take and the successes we encounter along the way that affect our mindset
I’m no boxer, but had I trained in boxing my whole life and experienced the thousands of small successes that it takes to build a true Growth Mindset then I might be willing to give Tyson his title shot. Instead, I learned to play the trumpet and was very fortunate to experience success almost every day. As a result, I learned that I could practice and get better and play pretty much any piece I choose to play.
And there lies the problem with the Growth Mindset assemblies. We can’t just tell people to ‘have a growth mindset’. And I’m pretty sure Carol Dweck – the author of the brilliant but much-misunderstood book ‘Mindset‘ – would agree with me on this.
A Growth Mindset comes from thousands of small – even microscopic – successes. These might be engineered by a clever teacher or coach or parent, or might happen quite by accident or through the child’s personal endeavors.
And the journey to success is a long and very twisting road, there’s no shortcut.
It’s the cumulative effect of these successes that creates the Growth Mindset.
So you can still do an assembly on it, but it might be worth taking a slightly different approach.
And make sure all your staff hear it too.
Leave a comment if you like.