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Mindset in education

We believe that having a growth mindset is critical for young people across Scotland to achieve their best in life and fulfil their potential.

Researched by Stanford University's Dr Carol Dweck, mindset helps young people develop a love of learning, thrive on challenges and build resilience. A growth mindset is something that children can learn, but there is also a key role for parents, teachers, and other adults in a child's life to play in ensuring they create a growth mindset environment. Our mindset project incorporates three main areas of work aimed at Scottish school teachers: 

1. Mindset Champions - a blended training course combining online, peer and face-to-face learning, culminating in a tutor-supported delivery of a classroom project.
2. Mindset Leaders - supporting senior school staff and educational leaders to spread mindset through their school, authority or region.
3. Mindset in the Curriculum - supporting the development of new approaches to integrate growth mindset into everyday teaching and learning. 

What is a growth mindset?

Individuals can approach their own abilities with either a fixed or growth mindset.

Fixed mindsets... believe that we're born with a fixed level of natural ability, intelligence or talent. We feel that our talents and abilities determine our level of success in the future. We might think we 'are no good at numbers', 'the sporty one', 'are naturally great at art' but 'am rubbish with words'.  We think we should find our talents easy, and avoid the setbacks and challenges that the things we're not so good at present us with.

Growth mindsets... believe our level of success is determined by factors such as effort, application and skills development.  We feel that our talents, abilities and intelligence can be learned and developed. We might think 'I'm not very good at this... yet', 'I need more practice', 'I'll have to try harder next time'.  We appreciate the value of success because we've had to work hard to achieve it and use challenges as opportunities to learn.

Working with education

We're supporting teachers to develop growth mindsets in young people.

We have:

  • Trained over 250 teachers across 29 local authorities through 'Mindset Champions'.  You can see some case studies here. 
  • Delivered a combined mindset training and leadership project with 29 schools across Dundee (26), Angus (1), South Ayrshire (1) and Perth & Kinross (1).
  • Delivered training and CPD workshops in schools in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Angus, Fife, Argyll & Bute, Dundee, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire.
  • Supported schools in Alloa, Dundee and Falkirk to use conceptual maths techniques.
  • Developed a community based approach across Dundee, involving education, health and other community agencies.
  • Commenced a new, numeracy focused mindset learning programme with 280 teachers and leaders in North Lanakrshire, Renfrewshire and the Forth Valley and West Lothian RIC.

Mindset Maths

We support teachers in applying mindset maths in Scotland.

From speaking to teachers around the country, we have learned that a significant number of children in Scotland are uncomfortable doing maths. In 2018a survey, conducted with several thousand people, told us that around half of them feel "anxious or nervous" about maths. 

Dr Jo Boaler of Stanford University is revolutionising the way maths is taught, inspiring our work in "Mindset Maths". With the support of Jo Boaler, we have worked with more than 1,000 teacher in two sold-out events in Edinburgh and Glasgow. As a result, the demand for support in applying mindset maths in Scotland tis already vast, and continues to grow.  

"It's really positive and it's certainly set us up to be moving in the right direction. Whereas before [pupils said] 'I can't do this, I'm rubbish, I can't do numbers, I'm not going to do this', they sit together now and work things out. I think it is actually beginning to have a real effect particularly on the younger kids." Teacher, Kinross Primary School.

Where can I find out more?

We have a host of information, tools and resources available for you to download and use in your schools and communities.

There are leaflets, lesson plans, slides and more. These are available from our Mindset in Education GLOW blogsite, which is accessible by everyone.

If you would like to enquire about how our growth mindset work could help you, please contact richard.orr@winningscotlandfoundation.org or call 0131 281 0875.