Your “I Can” is more important than your IQ – Robin Sharma

Posted by Laura on Feb 24, 2016

I found both the talk by Angela Duckworth and the article by Jo Boaler very interesting.

Duckworth emphasises the need for motivation within students as a key aspect of success within learning and that this is encompassed within the growth mindset theory.

I agree with Angela that motivation in students is a big barrier to learning but find frustration in yet another question being posed with no apparent answer. I’m sure for many practitioners finding a lack of motivation and resilience with in the classroom is nothing new, and having someone point this out without any apparent solution doesn’t help us to overcome the situation. So often in the classroom I see students that are more than capable of achieving “success” as it is currently measured in the UK education system, but do not have the impetus to dig down and put in the effort that is required. I think that in our current classroom and education system there is an epidemic of fixed mindset that instils in students from an early age that success should be easy for those with talent and that if you have to work for it then your success is somehow not as polished and perfect as that of another pupil who achieved theirs effortlessly.

I think ability setting has something to answer for in these cases. We see high ability students all grouped together in one place, many of whom can excel in maths without breaking too much of a sweat. We then have those who lie in the middle sets, some of whom have good ability, but are happy to coast by with a passing grade without ever submitting a piece of homework or committing much to paper during lessons, and some who pore over their work hour after hour putting in the effort that will, in the long run, get them the grade they are searching for.  And then there’s the bottom sets. These children have been implicitly told throughout their education that they aren’t as good as the others, that they probably wont get the grade that they need, that they are all in the same place to work at a slower, lower level.

Boaler, and supporting research, make a good point. I think that mixed ability setting will help to promote growth mindset in our classrooms and start to change the perception that ability as can be seen at an early age is a measure of your potential achievement. This however will be a struggle as in the UK we are still consistently being instructed to set by ability. Only recently I heard of a school that had been told by OFSTED to completely re-set their classes by KS2 grades because there was too much overlap inability amongst the students. If the very people who are supposed to be ensuring educational excellence in this country are preaching against the research, what hope do we really have of moving forward?

1 Comment

  1. pepsmccrea
    7 March 2016

    Ability grouping certainly has an impact. It’s just figuring out what kind of impact, and on whom. Interesting note about the OFSTED mandate – will investigate & try to bring some stuff along to next session

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