The classroom teacher can heavily influence the cultivation of growth mindset through their communication with learners.
Phrases such as “I can’t do it…yet” have been popularised by Carol Dweck as a way to turn around attitudes towards challenge. She has also highlighted the importance of using appropriate language when giving praise to children. Teachers who praise children’s innate intelligence may foster a fixed mindset, while praising the process helps to develop a growth mindset.
The language we use with children can heavily influence how they see themselves, how others see them, and can reinforce how we ourselves view them. Conveying low expectations through phrases such as “Don’t worry about it – try an easier one” reinforces neural pathways that say “I’m not clever enough”. When discussing children with additional support needs, using phrases such as ‘poor wee soul’ labels children and limits expectations.
“The child or adult hears: ‘oh, you think I’m brilliant and talented. That’s why you admire me; that’s why you value me. I better not do anything that will disprove this evaluation’.” Carol Dweck