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Mindset in education

We believe that having a growth mindset is critical for young people across Scotland to develop confidence and resilience.

Researched by Stanford University's Dr Carol Dweck, a growth mindset helps young people develop a love of learning, thrive on challenges and build resilience. The adults in a child's life have a key role to play in ensuring they create a growth mindset environment within which young people can learn. Our 'Mindset Teams' approach supports classroom teachers and school leadership to work together in teams to create a growth mindset learning environment across subjects and throughout whole schools: 

1. Mindset Champions - a blended training course combining online, peer and face-to-face learning, culminating in a tutor-supported delivery of a classroom project.
2. Mindset Leaders - supports senior school staff and educational leaders to spread mindset through their school, authority or region.
3. Mindset in the Curriculum - supporting the development of growth mindset into areas like numeracy, literacy and science. 

What is a growth mindset?

Individuals can approach their own abilities with either a fixed or growth mindset.

Fixed mindsets... believe that we're born with a fixed level of natural ability, intelligence or talent. We feel that our talents and abilities determine our level of success in the future. We might think we 'are no good at numbers', 'the sporty one', 'are naturally great at art' but 'am rubbish with words'.  We think we should find our talents easy, and avoid the setbacks and challenges that the things we're not so good at present us with.

Growth mindsets... believe our level of success is determined by factors such as effort, application and skills development.  We feel that our talents, abilities and intelligence can be learned and developed. We might think 'I'm not very good at this... yet', 'I need more practice', 'I'll have to try harder next time'.  We appreciate the value of success because we've had to work hard to achieve it and use challenges as opportunities to learn.

Working with education

We're supporting teachers to develop growth mindsets in young people.

We have supported over 600 teachers through our mindset professional learning programmes (see above).  You can see some case studies here and read about their impact here

The approach the majority of schools now use is called 'Mindset Teams' (download the course descriptor here) - where class teachers and school leadership work together to create a growth mindset culture. 

Using this approach, teachers report improved resilience and perseverance in their pupils. Many also say they've changed their perceptions of their pupils' ability.

We are already working closely with hundreds of schools across North Lanarkshire, Dundee, Renfrewshire and the Forth Valley and West Lothian, South West and Northern Alliance regional improvement collaboratives to deliver Mindset Teams. You can watch some short videos documenting their experience on our YouTube channel

Mindset Maths

We support teachers in applying mindset maths in Scotland.

From speaking to teachers around the country, we have learned that a significant number of children in Scotland are uncomfortable doing maths. In 2018, a survey conducted with several thousand people, told us that around half of them feel "anxious or nervous" about maths. 

Dr Jo Boaler of Stanford University is revolutionising the way maths is taught, inspiring our work in "Mindset Maths". With the support of Jo Boaler, we have worked with more than 1,000 teachers in two sold-out events in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and are supporting many more through our learning programmes. 

"It's really positive and it's certainly set us up to be moving in the right direction. Whereas before [pupils said] 'I can't do this, I'm rubbish, I can't do numbers, I'm not going to do this', they sit together now and work things out. I think it is actually beginning to have a real effect particularly on the younger kids." Teacher, Kinross Primary School. 

Where can I find out more?

We are always seeking to develop new partnerships with schools, local authorities and RICs to help embed growth mindset in Scottish Education. Our learning programmes offer deep learning for teachers and schools.

If you would like to enquire about how our growth mindset work could help you, please contact richard.orr@winningscotlandfoundation.org or call 0131 344 4603.