The Importance of Creating a Growth Mindset and Battling a Fixed Mindset

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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Most people can agree that it’s easy to fall into a routine when something is done repetitively—day in and day out. The majority of people, at some point or another, will have experienced a fixed mindset response. Sarah Sparks, the author of “Growth Mindset Gaining Traction as Ed. Strategy”, suggests that a person with a fixed mindset believes they were born with the amount of intelligence and skills they already have. If a child continually responds with a fixed mindset, over time, this will become the only way the person knows how to respond to challenging situations.

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In a sense, a fixed mindset is learned, and if a fixed mindset can be learned, that means a growth mindset can be learned as well. Having a growth mindset takes practice, however. Think of it as riding a bike—if a person doesn’t practice, they will never become good at it. Consider all the practice it takes to learn to ride a bike. How many times does a person fall down or even get hurt? Yet, despite the fear of falling down again, they get back on the bike until they succeed. This is exactly what having a growth mindset looks like.

Carol Dweck, author of “Even Geniuses Work Hard”, argues that “individuals with a growth mindset believe they can develop their intelligence over time”. This is the opposite for individuals with a fixed mindset. As mentioned before, a person with a fixed mindset believes they either have it or they don’t. In general, people develop their mindset through experiences, both positive and negative. For instance, if a child continually gets low scores on math assignments, over time they may develop a fixed mindset that is negative towards math, resulting in an unwillingness to learn new methods for success. This is why it’s crucial for children to be encouraged early on, not to view setbacks in a negative way, but instead as a learning opportunity to grow and excel. Dweck believes that this can be done by creating a “growth-mindset culture in the classroom”.

Specifically, teachers can facilitate this by providing positive feedback to students for their tenacity, willingness to learn new things, and use of alternative approaches to understand how much the student has learned. Do they know more now than they knew before? If the answer is yes, Dweck suggests, this is progress and the time to praise the student for their gains. I agree that positive feedback for the progress a student has made is beneficial because my experience in the classroom confirms it. I have witnessed numerous students who thought they would never learn something, work really hard at something, and persevere through their struggles, ultimately giving them the tools to be successful in the future. Though some might argue that training the mind to think this way can be difficult, I believe with the right coaching from teachers and determination from the student, it is completely attainable.

Learning to have a growth mindset doesn’t have to stop in the classroom. Parents can teach these skills to their children at home as well. One way this can be achieved is by parents’ role modeling their own problem-solving strategies in front of their child. Children will often mimic what they see their parents doing, so this would be a very effective way to demonstrate what a growth mindset looks like. Another option would be to suggest alternative ways to solve a problem when the child is beginning to display a fixed mindset. Also, parents can share stories with their children of their own struggles and strategies they have used to be successful. This teaches the child effective ways to strategize through a problem. It also teaches children to view their mistakes as learning opportunities.

Why is this important? It’s important because when they’re faced with challenges in the future, they will welcome new challenges and be eager to learn from them. Life, in general, can throw many challenges at people. Whether it’s learning to live with a roommate for the first time, learning to take care of a new baby, or learning a new job, these are all challenges that require a person to step out of their comfort zone and learn. By applying the skills they learned in childhood, and using their growth mindset, they will be successful in the future when challenging situations arise. Consider an example of an employee being transferred to a different department after three years in their current department. Karl McDonnell, author of “It’s All in Your Mind”, suggests that an employee with a growth mindset will understand that learning takes time. Whereas the fixed mindset employee “will strongly resist the change.” As a result, this employee may be viewed negatively and could affect their future employment.

At the end of the day, how people choose to cope with failure or new challenges is entirely up to them. Although responding with a growth mindset is preferred, experiencing a fixed mindset from time to time is normal and happens to everyone at some point. However, with that said, people have a choice, and when equipped with the proper knowledge and skill set, they can make a choice to respond with a growth mindset. If children can learn to view challenges as learning opportunities early on, they are more likely to embrace these challenges. Additionally, the more often the skill is practiced – at school or at home, the more it will become a normal way of thinking during challenging situations. Creating a growth mindset culture in the classroom will aid in this process and will ultimately aid in future successes.

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The Importance of Creating a Growth Mindset and Battling a Fixed Mindset. (2022, Nov 17). Retrieved from