One-Two Punch

A True Growth Mindset Requires a One-Two Punch

by Roger Stark

People who have a growth mindset believe they can develop their intelligence and their abilities and that’s what enables them to become much more effective learners, according to the groundbreaking work of Dr. Carol Dweck.

That’s the first punch.

People with a growth mindset who have teachers or trainers who provide explicit opportunities for them to develop their intelligence and their abilities will become even more effective learners.

That’s the second punch.

The combination of those two punches can be a knockout, but we need to figure out how to deliver that one-two combination on a regular basis, day in and day out for our students.

Sometimes, as educators and leaders, we get sucked into believing that our students cannot do or learn certain things. We forget to structure opportunities to for them to stretch and be challenged, in fact, to develop their intelligence. Even when we know better, we can fall into thinking that there is nothing we can do to change the way our students learn.

When educators to structure opportunities for students to develop their intelligence, the results can be dramatic.

Recently, students in Hammond, Indiana were given an opportunity to develop their intelligence. These were students who struggled with reading, and whose teachers had not figured out how to teach them to read, because of their low cognitive ability in areas of processing related to language and reading. The students used BrainWare SAFARI, either before or after school, 4 days a week for 10 weeks, and took the CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test) as the pre- and post-test. The results are in. These struggling students increased their verbal reasoning ability from the 35th percentile to the 48th percentile.

Having a growth mindset means helping children understand that they can change their cognitive abilities – that was the first punch the teachers in Hammond delivered with these students. And then they threw the second punch – providing BrainWare SAFARI cognitive skills development software to build the abilities these students needed to overcome their struggles. This was not about more facts, or more content, or even more practice in reading, but about building students’ ability to learn.

Schools that teach to the test may deliver students better prepared for the test. Schools that develop children’s ability to learn can deliver students better prepared for life. School can empower students with tools that are engaging and result in sustainable growth that transfers to measurable outcomes. We sometimes refer to this as offering a life of choice, not chance. Or as Albert Einstein, albeit without the benefit of Dweck’s research, said “Education is not the learning of facts. It’s rather the training of the mind to think.”

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