“Becoming is better than being.” – Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

People often claim to have received a ‘good education’. While most of us would nod enthusiastically in agreement, do we really know what is meant by the term? While the definition may vary from person to person, ‘good education’ essentially boils down to one factor: a growth mindset. As educators, we talk a lot about fixed and growth mindsets, and strategies for encouraging the desired shift. One image by Carol S. Dweck outlines the basis of the growth mindset, and it’s key differentiators from its polar opposite. As the image explains, a growth mindset views intelligence as developed, rather than fixed, promoting the necessity to pursue learning. Instilling this growth mindset is planting the seed for a ‘good education’, as an essential factor for both personal and professional development.

5 Lessons from a Growth Mindset:

1. “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

― Franklin D. Roosevelt

A growth mindset educates about the importance of effort, and the enjoyment in achievement, however small a success. Seeing effort as the path to mastery, students begin to realize the necessity for lifelong learning in the pursuit of happiness.

2. “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

― Albert Einstein

A growth mindset encourages failure as a significant part of the learning process, promoting persistence as the key to achieving goals. Embracing failure, along with the importance of trial and error, students are motivated to persist with every challenge, and never give up.

3. “Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.”

― Orison Swett Marden

Viewing challenges as obstacles to avoid is a common trait of the fixed mindset. A growth mindset, rather, views challenges as opportunities to be embraced and to face with determination.

4. “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.“

― Albert Einstein

Questioning plays a key role in our development, encouraging us to be inquisitive, feeding our innate curiosity. By questioning the world around them, students become inspired never to stop learning, surrounding themselves with new possibilities. 

5. “The only competition worthy of a wise man is with himself.”

― Washington Allston

Another common trait of the fixed mindset – viewing competition in a negative light, focusing on the success of others as a threat, in place of a lesson. The growth mindset rather promotes the idea of learning from others, building personal goals as opposed to building comparisons.

Education leaders reforming the teaching and learning process are ideal advocates for the growth mindset. Using technology as a facilitator for change, these educators are leading by example, incorporating these lessons in their teaching. By building a community of learners focused on the qualities of a growth mindset, we move closer to a system based on innovation, and ‘good education’ becomes a lot more transparent.

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About the author:


Lorna Keane is a teacher of French, English and ESL. She specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Image credits: Cambodia4kids.org Beth Kanter / CC BY 2.0