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yoda-growth-mindset(photo shared on Twitter by @LorindaKline)

Often when we talk about growth mindset, it is alluded to as an essential element to develop in our students. But an article recently published by Will Richardson (@willrich45) brings me to reflect on this point, in particular the following passage:

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t like just about every five year old have a “growth mindset?” I mean, depending on parents and other circumstances, I’m sure even kids that age can see themselves as limited. But most of the tail-waggers I’ve seen in kindergarten feel like they can conquer just about anything. They’ve already got a “growth mindset.”

Being a principal at the elementary level (not to mention a father of two children), I have had the pleasure of spending quality time with my students. I quickly realized how, in the unconditional spirit of children, there are no limits.

When thinking of my students, and of my son and daughter, it is true that at a young age they already showed traits of having a growth mindset. So what has become of this beautiful way of seeing the world 4, 5, 6 years later? Do their eyes still sparkle when they discover something new, when they experience an adventure or even a challenge? Are our children merely being programmed, largely through the school system, to the detriment of their growth mindset? I would love to discuss that last question with teachers and principals. If you are reading this blog post and are in education, maybe it will inspire you to do so. What about these thought-provoking questions – Is this the case for our students? What impacts do our daily behaviors have on them? What is being done to develop a culture of learning in which their growth mindset can flourish, to make their eyes sparkle as often as possible?

I find this video representative of being in a state of fixed mindset: two people stranded on an escalator, and for several reasons are unable to cope with their predicament. Note that in this situation there are factors other than rational intelligence that play an influential role: attitude, vision, self-confidence, emotional intelligence. Often, human nature pushes us into a state of fixed mindset.

Nurturing A Growth Mindset … Being A Jedi

I like to make the following analogy:

Nurturing a growth mindset means being a Jedi to our students, colleagues, our school community, and ourselves.

In the well-known Star Wars film series, a Jedi is a being who has an exceptional mastery of himself, is very conscious of his environment, and is able to master the Force. The Jedi are also linked to each other by the same Force. They seek good in others, the positive in all situations. They are lifelong learners. Like them, we need each other for support, to celebrate and to grow. We must see the positive and become lifelong learners.

In the fast pace of our lives, it is important to stop from time to time and reflect. Think of a time when you were in a state of growth mindset.

  • What triggered it?
  • How did you feel?
  • What was the result?

To nurish a growth mindset, one must:

  • Be open and flexible
  • Be able to recognize when to make a change and accept it
  • Recognize our triggers
  • Being able to take action and make a change
  • Be willing and able to do what has not yet been done

Here is a video of a renowned Star Wars scene in which Master Jedi Yoda guides his apprentice Luc Skywalker in adopting a growth mindset. Watch it with your colleagues and students and have a conversation with them.

When we adopt and nuture a growth mindset, we develop a very valuable and useful toolbox. A toolbox in which we find our resilience. And it is with this resilience that we manage to overcome the challenges, to change when we find ourselves in a state of fixed mindset, to get off the escalator.

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