Joshua McDowall


Airdrie Academy

  • Growth Mindset

What Happens When Mistakes Are Celebrated In The Classroom?


This enquiry will focus on the different reactions pupils have towards mistakes. Specifically it will focus on pupils’ attitudes towards mistakes and how they differ within the classroom. After close observation of pupil work it became apparent that some were missing out questions and either not asking for help or the believed that they had finished the task. Pupil feedback uncovered a common theme whereby pupils felt that it was better to leave a question blank in fear of making a mistake rather than making an attempt. This was a clear indication of what Dweck considers to be a ‘fixed mindset’ – where to be confronted by one’s own failings is viewed as toxic or an indication of low ability. Talent or success in a certain area is inherent for this a way of thinking (Dweck, 2000). A ‘Growth Mindset’ is one in which failure is an important part of development. Mistakes are seen as directions on the journey toward success as they provide us with the opportunity for learning and growth (Boaler, 2013).


The Aim of this study was to create a class room environment where mistakes were used as the foundation of development. This would show the pupils that mistakes are a natural part of education and encourage them to seek help, analyse their own work more honestly, and provide them with a clear and measurable picture of their own development. By the end of the study pupils would hopefully feel more comfortable in making mistakes and be able to explain why this is. This would have a knock on effect in other subjects allowing the pupils’ confidence in themselves and their abilities to develop organically rather than simply improve their performance in the English classroom.

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