Success doesn’t come to you. You Go To It.

Posted by Rhys on Feb 29, 2016

Having watched this weeks TED talk by Angela Duckworth and read the article by Jo Boaler. I have to say my views and opinions on the idea of growth mindsets has been strengthened after listening to their views on it.

Angela Duckworth talked about “grit” and how if we work hard enough at something we can learn it. She said that this goes for anything. As well as working hard she said that our IQ has nothing to do with our ability to learn. I agree with her that to be good at something and to really master it you have to practice and practice at it. You have to put in a lot of effort to get the rewards. On the other hand, as well as working hard she believes that our IQ shouldn’t affect our ability to learn. This is because I believe if you practice something hard enough and also look at something from multiple angles then you can learn it. We look at students who are failing at maths as if they cannot do it full stop. However, it may simply be that they cannot do it the way you as the teacher are showing them. Maybe, we need to be more open to multiple representations of solving the same problem so as students can decide which method they are able to relate to and use productively.

As discussed by Carol Dweck and further supported by Angela Duckworth and the research done by Jo Boaler in the article. Students in lower sets of maths have very little motivation to try and succeed in the subject. This is because I feel that once you put that title of an ability set over a student they feel that they cannot get any better than that, and will give up. Rather than them believing that if they try they could achieve the top grades. Therefore, maybe we should look at mixed ability classes? Rather than separating students based on ability.

As well as the setting system in place in England which is not a suitable way for encouraging students to establish this idea of growth mindsets. We also need to look at how teachers are teaching. For example, in many schools in England teaching is based on the idea that students have fixed mindsets and they will not improve from the level they are currently at. For example, I have discussed this before but, the idea of teachers marking work not just correct and incorrect but showing students where they have gone wrong and giving them guidance on the areas that need to be looked over again in order to obtain the correct answer next time. If marking is not conducted like this then students will not see mistakes as areas to work and improve on. They will see it as an indicator of their own inability within the subject and feel like they are failing.


  1. marcus
    6 March 2016

    Excellent point about multiple representations, Rhys. I also like your thoughts on the way that teachers should be marking… I completely agree with you about showing students where they have gone wrong in order to give them guidance, my worry is that this can knock their confidence if we aren’t careful… Perhaps we need to work on creating a classroom environment where students aren’t afraid to make mistakes/ get things wrong… I wonder how many students feel afraid to make mistakes in their lessons at the moment?

  2. pepsmccrea
    7 March 2016

    Great to see you making lots of connections here, and beginning to think about what the implications are for you as a teacher.

  3. pepsmccrea
    7 March 2016

    And agree with Marcus > your ‘multiple angles’ is an interesting point

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