George Lucas Educational Foundation
Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset Is Not Enough

To help students face life’s challenges, teachers should seek to help them develop a broad set of skills.
A teacher encourages a young student in class.
A teacher encourages a young student in class.
  • 798 shares
  • 11 comments
  • read later Bookmark

We educators may be tempted to believe that once students develop growth mindset, they are adequately prepared to face life’s challenges and changes. But growth mindset is not nearly enough by itself to thoroughly outfit anyone with all it takes to attain their full potential.

Possessing a positive perspective is but one instrument in what must be a cohesive quartet that meets each child’s fundamental needs. Growth mindset is indeed crucial, but not any more or less so than three other sets of readiness. Educators must nurture the whole child. The following four core capabilities are equally important and inextricably intertwined.

Practicing growth mindset: Growth mindset consists of assurance, adaptability, and an openness to accepting assistance, so embolden your students by extending to them sincere encouragement and empathy. An attuned and attentive teacher cultivates the self-monitoring we want all children to ultimately acquire. Growth mindset also strengthens resolve and shores up resiliency. This indefatigable outlook—augmented by focus, persistence, and calculated effort—is an essential aspect of being truly college and career ready. Yet merely working hard does not guarantee results; instead, we must teach students how to work smart.

Pursuing strong skill sets: Strong skill sets back up all that belief, exertion, and perseverance. Without dependable dexterity and solid strategies, mindsets alone do not amount to much. Equipping students with practical capabilities develops the eventual self-efficacy that turns conviction into success. As facilitators, we can assist students in moving beyond being passive consumers of information and toward becoming active producers of insight and innovation.

Setting an example: Progressively behaving in ways others should emulate demonstrates true responsibility and reliability. Of course, kids cannot set examples for others until the significant adults in their lives have themselves set good examples. Along with being role models of integrity, teachers should entrust youngsters with developmentally appropriate opportunities to act independently and conscientiously. Children develop self-control only when they have been granted suitable experiences of actual control from which they can learn and grow.

Setting one’s heart: A focus on that which is personally meaningful makes all the previously explained work and willpower worthwhile. Pursuing ambitions that deeply resonate and holding fast to dreams drives engagement. Unless someone has exposed kids to new experiences and ideas that allow for exploration and experimentation, however, many students do not spontaneously express their desires or refine their talents. Teachers must actively inspire and endorse their student’s passions.

Armed with this powerful combination of social, emotional, soulful, and academic tools, every child can handle eventual setbacks (and even the pressures of success) with humility, humor, and honor.

Acknowledging and Optimizing Emotions

As important as it is for every person to possess a balance of interpersonal, intrapersonal, aspirational, and intellectual capabilities, expecting anyone, especially a child, to perpetually maintain positivity and productivity is not only unrealistic, it is unnecessary. Sometimes it’s natural to temporarily fall back into a fixed mindset. In fact, the researcher who developed the definition of growth mindset, Carol Dweck, recognizes that we are all combinations of fixed and growth mindsets—and she asserts that this dualism is (gasp!) perfectly OK.

Everyone occasionally doubts, worries, or flirts with giving up, especially when objective evidence sparks brief bouts of despair. Yet we can also teach that there is always plenty of progress and promise to dwell upon—if we look for it. The key is to process all of our feelings so that we can quickly get back on task with the faith, grace, and gratitude that in due time will help us reach our intended destinations.

Embracing Adventure

The trust, tranquility, and thankfulness that accompany a student’s initiative and strong work ethic transform their education journeys into glorious adventures that become just as sweet as reaching carefully calculated objectives. A sense of excitement and an ability to cope with adversity are the rewards growth mindset offers when students accept struggle, embrace challenge, and overcome obstacles.

Student engagement always matters because passion and purpose can be elevated into engendering real commitment and because pursuing our muses always leads to deep contentment and meaningful success. The avenues to this self-actualization are found in a holistic teaching approach that expands well beyond mindsets and creates classrooms filled with willingness, wisdom, wonder, warmth, and worth.

About the Author
Share This Story
  • 798 shares
  • 11 comments
  • read later Bookmark

Comments (11) Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Conversations on Edutopia (11) Sign in or register to comment

Robert Ward's picture
Robert Ward
Robert Ward is an enthusiastic educator, author, and champion for children.

Thanks for your kind comments, Peg. As a fellow advocate for honoring the whole child, I believe it is important to emphasize that cooperation and courtesy are just as important as confidence, creativity, or academic capabilities. We sometimes favor the emotional aspect of SEL over the social, and I hope my article inspires educators to take a more balanced approach to children's four fundamental needs.

(1)
Ash Buchanan's picture

Great article Robert. I love your idea of nurturing a whole child with a diverse set of skills and character qualities. These ideas are at the heart of a concept call the Benefit Mindset our team is developing - reckon it's right up your alley :-) http://www.benefitmindset.com/

(2)
Robert Ward's picture
Robert Ward
Robert Ward is an enthusiastic educator, author, and champion for children.

Ash, thank you for directing me to your outstanding and important website. The concept of Benefit Mindset directly aligns with the ideas of my article and with my own personal philosophy of nurturing and educating children. I am so pleased that our complementary ideas have developed between continents! Honoring the whole person, be it child or adult, is the key to fulfillment and fellowship. We are all global citizens, and our mutual success and satisfaction depends on equally attending to our social, emotional, soulful, and intellectual needs.

(1)
Larry's picture
Larry
Owner of ThrivEdge - Academic, Success, Career training

too many look for a magic bullet that solves all problems. and a growth mindset seems to have fallen into this reality - its like working hard - its necessary but not sufficient for success. In today's world, a growth mindset is more necessary than before but there is more to success than a growth mindset - its just a foundation to build many other things that are also necessary.

Robert Ward's picture
Robert Ward
Robert Ward is an enthusiastic educator, author, and champion for children.

The chronic quest for the magic bullet of student achievement is one that has rankled me for my entire career, Larry. There is never a quick fix to complex problems, yet we always seem to move from panacea to panacea with no significant results. Furthermore, if those long-sought-after results are simply about test scores, we neglect the needs of the whole child. This is sadly ironic since I firmly believe that academic success only comes through an equal emphasis on children's social, emotional, and soulful needs. This holistic, balanced approach permeates all of my books and articles: https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Ward/e/B0189PQ3J4 Thank you for contributing to this important conversation.

(1)
Justin Pham's picture

Great article, but what are some ways we can get students to become more engaged with the learning experience, especially with students who aren't particularly motivated with finding interest?

Robert Ward's picture
Robert Ward
Robert Ward is an enthusiastic educator, author, and champion for children.

This is a great question, Justin. It's one thing for teachers to know that student engagement is important, but it is quite another thing to possess specific strategies for motivating student interest that leads to deep investment. Here are two resources I can recommend:

My Edutopia article, "Bring Excitement into Any Lesson" offers ten ways to capture students' passions: https://www.edutopia.org/article/bring-excitement-into-any-lesson-robert... . Also, my book, The Firm, Fair, Fascinating Facilitator, takes the main ideas of this article and explains them in detail. The chapters on how to be a fascinating facilitator would be especially helpful for you: https://www.amazon.com/Firm-Fair-Fascinating-Facilitator-Transform/dp/14... . I hope these help!

Debbie Silver's picture

Hi Robert! You are quite correct in our shared view of the world. I don't know how I missed this article, but I am thrilled to find it (and you) now. Dedra Stafford's and my book, Teaching Kids to Thrive, reiterates much of what you and I have both said about teaching the whole child. Come visit me at www.debbiesilver.com any time you like. You can login to download free hand-outs with this password: iamateacher (no spaces and no caps). Let me know if I can ever be of help to you in the important work you are doing. I am so glad to find your work, and please consider me your newest fan. All best wishes,
Debbie Silver

(1)

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.