What it means to have a growth mindset

Elmhurst School for Boys

19th January 2018 | Headmaster's Blog

This term we are focusing on embedding the 4Cs into our teaching and learning, here at Elmhurst. The ability to use the skills of Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creative Thinking in everything that we do, are the skills that underpin our curriculum and are vital to achieving success in the 21st century, as identified by the ‘World Economic Forum’. 

In understanding how to effectively use these skills, the boys need to have a ‘growth mindset’ attitude to learning and this was the focus of my Upper School Assembly this week. I was delighted with the general response from the boys when I questioned their understanding of what it means to have a growth mindset. Their responses were in line with some famous quotes around this concept, such as "Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try" (Unknown) and "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm" (Winston Churchill), or "Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance" (Samuel Johnson). It was clear to me that the boys had a very good understanding that you do not achieve unless you try your best and that it is okay to make mistakes along the learning journey. In the Lower School the boys are always encouraged to say "I cannot do this YET" rather than just "I cannot do this". Having a growth mindset alongside an understanding of how to effectively use the 4Cs, will go a very long way to preparing Elmhurst boys for the 21st century.

An excellent example of perseverance was demonstrated through the ‘Celebration Assembly’ this morning when one boy was given a Golden Certificate for a Roman Numerals project he had completed in Mathematics. It was evident that this boy had worked extremely hard on his project and he deserved the opportunity to celebrate in the assembly, as it was a wonderful piece of work. However, one of his peers was also given a Golden Certificate as he had reflected on his own performance on his project, in light of the quality of others’ work and felt that he could produce a higher quality piece of work. He asked if he could have another opportunity to produce a piece for his project and so worked very hard for a few days, having been granted an extension. He consequently submitted a much better piece. When asked how he felt about what he had done, he replied "Proud!" Not only is this a super example of having a growth mindset, it is also an example of critical and creative thinking. In being given the opportunity to reflect on his performance, this boy was nurtured into achieving a much higher standard of work.

In ‘Preparing Boys for the 21st Century’ I expect them to have a growth mindset and in doing so, they will achieve their full potential, here at Elmhurst.

"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop." (Confucius)


- Mr. A J Padfield

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