What is the Growth Mindset?

The ‘Growth Mindset’ as it has come to be known, is the brainchild of social and developmental psychologist Dr Carol Dweck1, who began studying attitudes regarding failure, talent and its perceived origins among young children in schools. Fast forward thirty years from that initial study and a published book2 on the subject, selling over 800,0003 copies, – and the Growth Mindset idea has been adopted by companies big and small, as well as, of course, schools.

“Am I talented?”

Is a question that every child and teenager is sure to ask their friends and/or parents at some point due to their inherent insecurity (which is to be expected in such a competitive world!). It’s to be expected that almost every child has a natural proclivity towards some particular skill – be it crafts, creative, intellectual or academic – as a result of their natural curiosities, and of course the environment of their upbringing.

The Fixed Mindset in a nutshell.

A fixed mindset, as opposed to a growth mindset –  is founded on the ideology that natural talents are enough. That you are ‘gifted’ in one or a few skills and can make a success of life at school and work based on what you already have – such as high intelligence, or perhaps exceptional social skills that you can use to achieve your goals (such as high grades or promotions). It is a fixed mindset. While it allows us to crystalize our identity and makes CV writing simple, it can lead to a damaging thought – ‘If I’m good enough now, why try hard to improve?’

The Growth Mindset

The Growth Mindset is founded on the observations made by Dr Dweck in her original studies of young children – those who perceive learning as a goal (as opposed to those who identify as ‘gifted’), are likely to exert real effort and work into their classwork and homework. The growth mindset crosses class divides, wealth divides and country lines.

To briefly sum up the findings: Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset.
They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning.
Dr Carol Dweck for the Harvard Business Review4

The Growth Mindset is a combination of a belief-system, and logical goal-oriented planning – based on the idea that while we can still be proud of our achievements – there is always higher accomplishments, personal; academic and professional to aim for. Ultimately, leading to unstoppable growth!

How to give your students the best chance to adopt a Growth Mindset

Penstripe have designed a state-of-the-art growth mindset diary to introduce the concept to teachers and pupils, complemented by custom notepads and personalised notebooks that can be customised to suit any school – find out more about our customised student planners!





[1] https://profiles.stanford.edu/carol-dweck | Retrieved 19/09/19

[2] https://profiles.stanford.edu/carol-dweck?tab=publications | Retrieved 19/09/19

[3] https://hbr.org/2014/11/how-companies-can-profit-from-a-growth-mindset | Retrieved 19/09/19

[4] https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means | Retrieved 19/09/19