Growth Mindset Stories and Science - Part 7


Growth Mindset Stories and Science - Part 7

Our Greatest Glory – South African President Nelson Mandela highlighted the importance of learning and resilience when he once said “if our expectations, if our fondest prayers and dreams are not realized, then we should all bear in mind that the greatest glory of living lies not in never falling, but rising every time you fall”


Taking Good Risks –Ellen DeGeneres is a world famous comedian, actress, television host and author. Reflecting on what made her so successful, she once said “when you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important”.

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Even Einstein Struggled – Many students think you need exception talent to do well in science. However, a recent study by researchers at Columbia University and The University of Washington found that teaching these students about famous scientists who struggled and learnt from their mistakes went on to achieve higher grades in their own science lessons. This effect was most pronounced for ‘low-performing’ students and was attributed to students feeling more personal connection to these famous scientists.

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How Parents React to Failure – After experiencing a failure, students often to look to their parents to see how they react. But what impact does this response have on their child’s mindset? Parents can view failure as either ‘enhancing’ or ‘debilitating’. An enhancing view of failure sees setbacks as a chance to learn and grow, whereas a debilitating view of failure sees setbacks as a source of shame and forms the basis of a negative judgement on someone’s ability.

Researchers from Stamford University ran a series of studies with over one hundred parent and children pairs to explore what impact either an enhancing or debilitating view of failure has on their children’s own mindset. They found that children were very accurate at assessing how their parents viewed failure. Parents who viewed failure as debilitating were more likely to have a child with a fixed mindset whereas parents who viewed failure as enhancing were more likely to have a child with a growth mindset.

As the authors of the study comment,  ‘it may be that parents, like children, have mindsets that shape their own goals and behaviours, but that these beliefs are relevant to shaping children’s beliefs only if they lead to practices that children pick up on.’ They summarise by stating that “our findings indeed show that parents who believe failure is a debilitating experience have children who believe they cannot develop their intelligence… these parents react to their children’s failures by focusing more on their children’s ability or performance than on their learning”.

For even more tips and research about growth mindset, check out our page How to Develop a Growth Mindset. If you'd like to download our infographic to use in your classroom, click on the infographic to see our resources.

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