Over the last few years, thousands of schools around the world have jumped on board with the growth mindset. It seemed to become the low-hanging fruit for schools to easily grab. Going from school to school, posters about effort that focus on “trying harder” and books about the mindset for teachers and students are all around. Some school principals like to start conversations by stating that their schools are “Growth Mindset” schools.

This excerpt, taken from “The Problem With Having a ‘Growth Mindset,’ ” sets up the discussion surrounding the perceived benefits of the growth mindset movement.

Last week I expressed my thoughts in response to a similar article.

I was resolute that we as educators should be aspiring to teach and cultivate the characteristic of grit as part of the growth mindset.

In the spirit of the Christmas season, I even went on to say that the inherent worth of grit is biblically found in its powerful ability to produce character and hope.

On the contrary, little hope is found in Hattie’s research:

Based on the research of John Hattie, someone I work with as a Visible Learning trainer, the growth mindset only has an effect size of .19, which is well below the hinge point of .40. The hinge point means that the influence on learning being used is providing a year’s worth of growth for a year’s input (in the future, Hattie will further explore and explain the meta-analysis that he used to find the effect size).

So does this mean all the excitement surrounding the growth mindset is nothing more than hoopla? It certainly looks to be the case when considering Hattie’s research in isolation.

Also in the spirit of the Christmas season, I ended last week’s post with the notion of wisdom.

Wisdom.  When given the opportunity to receive any desire of his heart, wisdom is the virtue Solomon sought.  And this is the virtue that we must seek as we look at the growth mindset’s value in our classrooms.

Does the growth mindset pose any risks, as alluded to here?

But ultimately DeLuca worries about where the public conversation is going. “On the one hand, there’s a hopefulness that grit offers us. It’s an American narrative that’s really appealing, and it tells us that poor kids are not lost causes,” says DeLuca, who notes that too many policymakers just give up on kids in poverty. “But what happens with really popular ideas that have simple and compelling solutions is that you can run with them, and if things don’t change, then you start to think things can’t ever change.”

Here’s what I think:  Anything in this world of ours can result in poor or favorable outcomes.  Our hands can harm or help.  Water can drown or hydrate.  Fire can burn down buildings or heat up food.

This is where wisdom comes in.

“Do not correct a fool, or he will hate you; correct a wise man and he will appreciate you.” Proverbs 9:8

This proverb captures the essence of wisdom.  The same action of correcting someone can go one of two ways. A poor outcome or a favorable outcome. This doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t ever correct another.  We know there’s value in correcting someone.  That’s obvious.

But wisdom dictates who we correct, when we correct, and how we correct.

One wouldn’t argue that examples such as our hands, water, and fire hold tremendous power and benefit.  It just comes down to how we use them.

The same goes for the growth mindset.

It’s not whether or not it should be in our classrooms.  It’s how we use it in our classrooms.  That’s wisdom.

Having a growth mindset isn’t about grabbing the low-hanging fruit and saying we are doing it when we still refer an enormous number of students to special services when they may not need them. It’s about teaching students how to use meta-cognitive strategies which Hattie has shown to have an effect size of .69, and providing feedback, which has an effect size of .73. This is hard to do because of so many pressures facing the teacher and school principal.

If teachers, principals, and schools can wisely work together to eliminate many of the unnecessary pressures we face – and if we work to teach metacognitive strategies and provide meaningful feedback in conjunction with the growth mindset – then we could be looking at a  powerfully synergistic effect.

Wisdom.  Let’s all seek it!

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