Here is my Positive Realist view of the explosion of abuse of the term "growth mindset":
Your school bought a book about mindset and had a "volunteer" book club about it. They ordered one "Mindset Kit" per grade level. And they told you they want to see you using mindset when you plan every lesson. After all, they paid a lot of money for those kits and that in-house professional development. It will be a check-off on your observation review as well.
Sound familiar? I bet you can think of at least a minimum of five other mandates you have had to “show” or “document” in your plans that were not really a “thing”.
That’s right. Mindset is not a thing. It cannot be documented or data based or integrated into the regular schedule. It isn’t just for the kids or a subject.
So what is it? I continue to assert, as do the experts, that mindset is a way of thinking. It begins with Me and You. And then we need to spread it to Them. Mindset is a switch from why don’t they get it to what else can I do to help them understand. This may sound like I’m talking about a student. But I’m talking about life.
This isn’t some willy-nilly-positive-put-it-out-there thinking. It’s science. It’s neuroplasticity. It’s knowing that the ride is more important than the destination 99% of the time.
We aren’t always going to use a growth mindset. I certainly am still quite fixed in many an area. However, it is proven, that just thinking about the mindsets changes your way of thinking.
Often, I will think my usual thought (during a fixed-mindset moment) and I then counter it with the thought using a more growth minded view. It can be enlightening. But, in that moment, it often is not enlightening in any way! However, I have found more than once, even at a later time, that other thought may linger and grow.
Here is a real life example. It does not have to be a big idea! It is a simple thought we have throughout the day, everyday.
I can’t wait to retire and have my own time to do what I want… But I’m so glad to have a job I can count on that I love deep down beyond all the minutia. I also am thankful I can go to work unlike my friend who is too ill at the moment.
Don’t order the workbook, kit, poster (okay - a few cute posters are out there). Copy some great worksheets to operationalize the definitions. If you want to, order the Mindset audiobook or - shhh - the actual paper bound Mindset book!
If you even just thought about it just now, your mindset has grown!