Mark Curley


Caldervale High

  • Growth Mindset

What happens when we embrace mistakes as part of learning?


This topic was chosen to explore in greater detail as it is an area that creates a lot of interest. So many young people today are terrified about making mistakes, and this can only affect the quality of their learning. Mistakes can however be reduced if we as teachers implement a few strategies. One of these strategies being “scaffolding” that was first suggested by “Lev Vygotsky” and “Wood et al” (1976) where they Introduced building blocks towards tasks that pupils found difficult. This meant that the size of the task was reduced into small bite sized chunks that enabled the students to cope with the task much easier. Once the student became fully competent in the task, the building blocks (scaffolding) was removed. We would now like to find out from first hand experiences from the students we are working with, how they feel about the prosperity of making mistakes and how it impacts their mindset and learning. During my early days as a student teacher one of the things I initially noticed was the split divide in the class. Many pupils portrayed a growth mindset attitude, while many others had a fixed mindset attitude. Carol Dweck (November 2014) recently held a lecture called “The power of believing that you can improve” where she discusses her very own experiences as well as research she has gathered from children in the classroom. She discusses a piece of research which I found rather interesting. The research was taken from a teacher in an American school that gave their pupils summative assessments. When the pupils were receiving their results back, they would either receive a pass or a grade saying, “Not yet”. This was a very compelling piece and apparently from the studies carried out using this technique, pupils were more positive and remained optimistic about improving and gaining better results next time an exam came about.


By the end of this enquiry, we hope to have gained a better understanding on how pupils perceive mistakes in the classroom. Do they see them as a learning curve or do they see them as a block in the road that they cannot pass by? Through research of my own, we hope to find out ways in which we can make mistakes a positive feature in learning rather than a negative one. We would like to see how pupil’s mindsets change when they are reassured that mistakes are an important part of learning. By the end of this enquiry I would like to see my pupils being more vocal/articulate when they have issues and being able to feel like they can ask a question (silly or not) without being judged by their peers.

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