9 February 2023

Praising process, not intelligence

Junior School
Praising process, not intelligence
Praising process, not intelligence
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At our Parent Information session held on Tuesday evening, our Deputy Head of Junior School – Student Wellbeing, Mr Alby Ingles, presented the Whole School Wellbeing Framework and the research and context underpinning this.

The Social Emotional Learning Program that has been developed for our Junior School students has been influenced by the Berry Street Education Model (BSEM), which provides educators with evidenced-based practices that support the development of a strengths-based classroom. One of the five domains of the BSEM is Stamina, which involves sustained effort, perseverance and resilience with a key focus area being growth mindset which is founded on the work of Carole Dweck.

‘The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well is the hallmark of growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.’ (Dweck, 2006)

Children and adults who have a growth mindset embrace challenges, push through setbacks, treat effort as a path to achievement, use feedback and criticism as a way to improve and are inspired by other’s success. Counterproductive to the development of their learning skills is when children have a fixed mindset where they avoid challenges due to fear of failure, give up easily, see effort as temporary, get frustrated or ignore negative feedback and may feel threatened by the success of others. (Dweck, 2007)

Cues for growth mindset and fixed mindset thinking surround our children every day, and everywhere. There are specific strategies that parents can use when responding to their child’s performance; responses that will support the development of a growth mindset. Results from numerous studies have demonstrated that using ‘process praise’ rather than ‘intelligence praise’ encourages a learner to enter a growth mindset.

Process praise concentrates on acknowledging the habits that are proven to lead to positive learning. The processes we should attempt to praise in this way include hard work, grit, perseverance, taking on a challenge, paying attention to detail, struggling and overcoming, trying alternative strategies, making considerable effort and showing passion or enthusiasm.

At the end of the school day, rather than asking your child ‘What did you do at school today?’ and often being frustrated with the lack of response, below are some questions that you can ask your child to support them in developing a growth mindset:

  1. What did you today that made you think hard?
  2. What happened today that made you keep going?
  3. What mistake did you make that taught you something?
  4. What did you try hard at today?
  5. What will you do to challenge yourself tomorrow?

Dweck emphasises that even disappointment should be addressed as something that enhances learning. We can ask children ‘What is this teaching us? What should we do next?’ A switch to a growth mindset will help them achieve so much more and help them in their future lives.

Remember, it is important that we as the adults model a growth mindset. Why not have a go at this yourself first and don’t be afraid to share your mistakes and learning moments with your child.

Kylie Baxter
Head of Junior School Kew


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