After recently reading this, it took me back to a section from Carol Dweck's book, Mindset (please see my first post). Both Dweck and Brooks highlight similar issues, '... they bathe one another in oceans of affirmations and praise, as if buttressing one another against some insecurity.' However in this opinion piece Brooks acknowledges more readily, the various other factors that are brought into play in our lives.
This article argues that today, many students are 'more accomplished than past generations, but more emotionally fragile' and references 'helicopter parents, who protect their children from setbacks and hardships. They supervise playground conflict so kids never learn how to handle disputes.
Good practise within PE promotes more than just student participation in sports, amongst other aspects there is a big focus upon children's social and emotional development. As a team, one of the big successes in PYP PE at AISB was the use of our conflict corner.
A PE teaching environment is a unique space within the school day where, for example, when running around two Grade 1 students may bump into each other, or in a Grade 4 class another student may believe a class mate is not playing fairly and these situations can cause conflict, which can lead to an ideal teaching situation.
We implemented the Conflict Corner midway through last year, after noticing as a team we were spending too much time dealing with minor squabbles between students. After initially creating the space and modelling the process, students began to take control of their own feelings and began to mediate issues together. Conflicts are a regular part of every day life, the Conflict Corner gives students productive ways to handle conflict within PE and hopefully they can take these skills into areas outside the gym where they have conflict.
Carol Dweck is a professor at Stanford University and a leading researcher in the fields of personality, social psychology and developmental psychology. In her 2006 book Mindset – How We Can Learn to Fulfil Our Potential, Dweck argues that there are two types of ‘mindsets’ that people have, a growth mindset or a fixed mindset and this impacts upon all areas of our lives.
A person with a fixed mindset believes that their qualities are carved in stone, placing emphasis on the outcome and being highly concerned with how they will be judged. If you’re not confident about, or think that you might actually fail, when others succeed you will disengage from the activity.
A growth mindset is a belief that your basic qualities are something that you can cultivate, allows you to value what you’re doing regardless of the outcome. The passion and drive and sticking to it, especially when it is not going as one would like are hall marks of a growth mindset.
These are two very black and white definitions and Dweck acknowledges that this is not always the case, mindsets can be transient depending on the person and situation and most positively, we are also able to change these traits. Throughout the book Dweck gives examples from research and the real world ranging from sport, business and leadership, relationships and parenting & education, to support her argument.
As a teacher I have heard the term ‘mindset’ being talked about for many years, but my main take away from this book, having now read it, is to be able to highlight a fixed or growth mindset, with characteristics of behaviour and see how I can foster a growth mindset through the feedback that I give to students.
At AISB we have just had our trials for our Vampire Academy, our Under 9 & 11 competitive Football (Soccer) teams. For both age groups we have 14 places, and about 30 students attended trials. If a students are not selected they’re still able to attend Football sessions through our after school activity program. When giving feedback to the students who were not selected I tried to use Dwecks growth mindset approach to give feedback on process and growth, though receiving comments from one person, in relation to one activity, is not going to change a persons mindset, so it is something I’ll be implementing in my classes.
One of the most startling exerts from this book is in reference to how a fixed mindset can effect effort, or as Dweck rather plainly puts it ‘… effort is only for people with deficiencies’ (the definition of effort from someone with a fixed mindset) and looking around the Elementary gym you can see varying levels of effort, as you would in any classroom, however our students grow up with more sport on TV watching global superstars like Ronaldo, Messi or Bolt in the Olympics and they see the end product, but not the process.
Prior to reading this book I read Bounce: The Myth of Talent, which referenced Dweck and her research, which emphasised 10,000 hour rule of purposeful practise, as opposed to ‘God given’ or inherent talent. In both books they talk about Michael Jordan, who was cut from High School Basketball, wasn’t recruited by the college he wanted to play for and wasn’t drafted by the first two NBA teams that could’ve chosen him, how could this be the case for the most talented Basketball player of all time, and Jordan is not the only one, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Mia Hamm, Babe Ruth and Wilma Rudolph to name but a few. We do not see or hear of the struggles, as much as we hear about the talent of a player, which simplifies something down to ‘you’ve either got it or you haven’t’ mentality.
The biggest challenge will be creating an environment whereby students feel comfortable to make mistakes and see it as part of their learning process, to not give up and to want to endlessly feed their curiosity and drive.
Dwecks book was an interesting read and I do believe that there is worth in the mindset theory, I feel though throughout her book she over simplifies situations and justifies results purely to fixed or a growth mindset, the world we live in is not that black and white. Teaching involves many variables, but having an appreciation and understanding of mindset theory is one more tool, in my teacher tool box.