A Growth Mindset

Thanks to a very caring custodian, these birds were rescued from our school's courtyard and reunited with their mom.

Thanks to a very caring custodian, these birds were rescued from our school’s courtyard and reunited with their mom.  They look identical to the babies that inspired this post.

My family was recently relaxing near a local coffee shop and noticed a cute feathered family waddle by the parking lot outside. The parent/guardian bird (that’s principal-speak for “mama bird”) proceeded to swiftly hop the curb and nestle into a shady patch of grass. She passively watched from the higher elevation as her remaining ducklings hopped earnestly while striving to scale the relatively tall curb.

Climbing the bright yellow wall was no easy task, but most of the ducks managed to reach the summit in less than a minute. These might be referred to as “high flyers” in some educational circles, but I digress.

There was one single duckling that continued to franticly jump, scurry and flop at the wall…as if to say, “This may have been easier for you buzzards, but I’m not giving up…I can learn to do this!”

The remaining duckling’s effort was so heroic that my wife and children were completely enthralled. We found ourselves cheering AND debating whether we should lend some assistance. After a couple minutes the little creature successfully climbed the curb and took a well-deserved rest in the shade. It was a glorious reunion!

There are many parallels in this story to the work we do as educators. We could talk about how smart and nimble the first ducklings to reach the grassy oasis were. However, I see more value in addressing the power of a positive growth mindset; effort is tantamount to success. Carol Dweck talks about a growth mindset and how we should convey the approach to our children. When kids receive praise for being “smart” or easily accomplishing menial tasks we could be reinforcing a fixed mindset and implicitly stating that intelligence is constant. Why does this matter you might ask? GREAT QUESTION!

Want to train your child to be even more resilient? Would you like your child to persevere amidst difficult challenges? Dweck states, “Kids who are excited by a challenge do not see setbacks as a failure, but as an opportunity to learn.”

Originally Posted on June 18, 2012
Modifications made & links/functionality may be missing.

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About Dr. Brad Gustafson

I am an elementary principal and author in Minnesota. You can connect with me at www.BradGustafson.com or on Twitter via @GustafsonBrad

Posted on July 8, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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