Unfixing the Growth Mindset

Submitted By:
Robert Jackson, Ed.M. candidate, The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY

Beyond Growth Mindset: Creating Classroom Opportunities for Meaningful Struggle by Brad Ermeling, James Hiebert, and Ron Gallimore
Education Week, December 7, 2015

In this Education Week article, Ermeling et al. discuss that the growing trends of growth mindset and desirable difficulty must reflect meaningful struggle if they are to be effectively used. As more schools implement these proven principles, educators should be mindful of the difference between productive confusion and fruitless frustration, and seek to provide thoughtful challenges that students have the tools and background to accomplish. While avoiding the pitfall of presenting too great a challenge, teachers must also be aware that jumping in too early to save students from difficulties can undermine the learning process. John Dewey, an early proponent of effective struggle, noted that part of this process is to prepare students to hear and receive something of value as part of the learning experience. Teachers therefore should carefully plan how aligned inquiry and struggle fit into outcomes, create probing questions that lead to deeper knowledge, and allow for discussion within a structured lesson as a follow-up to meaningfully difficult challenges. As the authors state, student learning and growth will not come "from struggle alone."

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