Jillian Scott

Primary Teacher

Golfhill Primary

  • Growth Mindset

What happens when we embrace mistakes as part of learning?


When selecting a focus to study for practitioner enquiry, I began by reflecting on the areas and themes which have become of interest throughout my probation year. A reoccurring theme is a ‘fear of mistakes’ and learners lack of belief in what they are capable of achieving. Motivation and confidence is an area which Scottish society struggles with in general. We often revert to a ‘can’t do’ attitude because it is easier than facing failure and having to try again. Within the area of Growth Mindset this would be referred to as a ‘fixed mindset’. I have noticed this is particularly evident during Numeracy lessons. Children are reluctant to try, as they worry that they will fail and look bad in front of peers. Dweck (2006) explains that learners with a ‘growth mindset’ believe that they can learn just about anything. It may take some struggle and some failure but they understand that with some perseverance and effort, they can succeed. The focus of a Growth Mindset is on learning, even if it means making mistakes along the way. This can have implications in the classroom where children become reluctant to try or become frustrated if they get the wrong answer. Thus, the purpose of this enquiry was to embrace mistakes within the classroom, particularly during numeracy with the aim that the children learned to embrace mistakes and view them as valuable learning experiences. By embracing and celebrating mistakes we allow children to develop their thought processes by further analysing what they are learning. Growth Mindset aims to improve pupil engagement, self-esteem and in turn improve pupil confidence. The General Teaching Council for Scotland’s, Standards for Full Registration states, all teachers should, ‘Develop positive relationships and positive behaviour strategies’, 2012 (GTCS), Standard 3.2.2. This reflects Dweck (2007) thinking that teachers should be praising effort rather than simply praising correct answers and intelligence.


The aim of this enquiry was to evaluate the impact that embracing mistakes as part of learning has on pupils’ engagement within the classroom during numeracy lessons.

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