We are all unique in many respects but when it comes to “mindsets”, we are somewhat very similar. Simply because of common feeds of information fed into us by our parents, teachers, friends, relatives from very early stages of our lives. Our mind absorbs information like sponge what comes its way and mostly without any critical evaluation. Therefore, majority of us living in similar locations, countries or who share similar cultures, also end up sharing somewhat very similar mindsets.
This topic has garnered huge interest amongst academics lately in an effort to understand what could make overall human mind growth process more efficient and effective.
Researchers broadly divide mindsets into 2 types; growth mindset and fixed mindset.
Fixed mindset leads with the notion that people are born with ‘fixed’ qualities and talents which can be polished but cannot be significantly enhanced. Common examples that clearly show off these mindsets are when we hear statements like, ‘either I am good at something or I am not’, ‘I can’t learn now, it’s too late’, ‘I always struggle with…’, or ‘I already know everything I need to know’. Or some parent or student around us saying that they are naturally good at Mathematics or struggle with Physics etc.
On the flipside, Growth mindset leads with the notion that nothing is beyond the realms of possibilities and learning. It is all about understanding and believing in constant growing of skills, talents and capabilities through persistent effort and determination.
Given differences, both mindsets have different approaches and response to life and everyday matters, it is important for us to understand the impact these approaches are having on us right now. There are significant strides in technological advancement lately and accordingly dynamics of our societies and cultures are rapidly shifting too. What we know today could easily be replaced by what we would know tomorrow and in some cases, it may even become obsolete. The speed of change we now face, threatens the very existence of some societies or cultures where fixed mindset is prevalent. Simply because fixed mindset does not allow for learning, taking risks, or facing challenges and abhors failure in general. If not addressed, result may be that some societies will face an existential crisis.
Developing a growth mindset is apparently an option
Researchers have concluded through various studies that not only existing established mindsets can be changed but if we raise enough awareness, we can influence the development of mindsets in any manner shape or form that we would like. And what’s more that a lot of these ‘influences’ are no more than simple change in habits, ways of thinking or some subtle changes in our overall response to life’s everyday matters.
By no means below simple changes are exhaustive but are a good starter of five, which as parents/tutors we can make to enable growth mindset for our children: -
Praise efforts and the process undertaken
Focus should not be on achieving A1 grades or certain percentages only. Encourage children and students to appreciate the process whereby they got somewhere
Feedback what they could do different next time
A lot of us got this feedback from our families and elders that work harder next time or hard work pays off. It is not until later in lives we realized that it is not simply the hard work that can get us from A point to B point, but rather smart work. Promote brainstorming post-event to understand if different strategies could be applied to get the same or improved desired outcome.
Failure is nothing but another step to success
View failures as an opportunity to learn something new. There is always a lesson.
Don’t seek approval from others
It is not surprising that our actions are most of the times influenced by what will X think or what will Y say. This is exactly what we need to shift away from i.e. don’t seek approval from others but rather your own. Priority must be on learning and advancing our own goals and not seeking approval from peers.
I can do everything. I will overcome all the problems and blockers. I will try different methods to get the desired outcome. Those who persist get it. Promote the importance of persistence in everything that children or students do. If they don’t get a particular concept in Mathematics, ask them to research about it, ask them to try different exercise, ask them to read on Internet, give them something more to practice
In the end there is no overnight formula to feed children or for that matter to anyone to change their mindsets but rather these are subtle changes in our response to everyday life matters that we need to change. We, grownups, have to become self-aware of the dynamics of our behaviors and our thinking on the children and accordingly change ourselves first in order to influence a growth mindset for our children.