APPLYING A GROWTH MINDSET TO THE CLASSROOM

Mindset 1 In Text

When delivering our outdoor education courses it is common to meet students that are cautious and hesitant when it comes to trying new things and experiences. Some may be unwilling to participate in a challenge, regardless of whether they have previously experienced it, while others might simply give-in in the face of adversity.

And yet despite this, we know that there are often students who are willing to try new things, bounce back from failure and persist rather than give-in. So the question is, what sets these students apart from the others, and what can be done to help grow this attitude amongst their peers? One answer may lie in the sharing of mind-set theory, and helping students to realise their full potential through experiential learning.

Students with a fixed mindset tend to believe intelligence is something they’re born with rather than something to be developed. Whereas students with a growth mindset understand that skills and abilities can be developed and improved through effort, study and persistence.

How can we develop a growth mindset in the classroom and how do we do it on an Outward Bound course?

During our courses the attitudes and behaviours associated with the two mind-sets are incited when participants confront challenging and unfamiliar situations. Requiring participants to leave the safety of their home, daily routines and comfort zones helps us to achieve this. Going on an adventure is an opportunity for them to understand, test and demonstrate their own resources, as well as challenge themselves to learn about their own strengths and weaknesses. 

This new-found self-awareness can help young people to take on new challenges, expand their mindset and learn through experience. In the Outward Bound environment this may be a decision to participate in a gorge scramble, despite previously believing this was too difficult or scary. In the classroom environment it could be an attitude that a maths problem can be solved, so long as just enough effort is provided.

We’ve also found that once students have gained a good knowledge of what growth mind-sets are it can begin to form a central part of wrap-up and review sessions at the end of a task. For instance – if a student expressed doubt or anxiety about a task beforehand and then later achieves the task – revisiting and reviewing the initial doubt helps them to realise they’re capable of adopting a growth mindset.

The next step is to transfer this learning from the wild to the classroom and we’re pleased to report that many schools have done this with some success.

If you would like to find out more about mindset theory and how it could benefit you or your students contact our mindsets expert, Katherine O’Brien, senior Instructor at The Outward Bound Trust’s Ullswater centre.