14 August 2017

Student Wellbeing: Failing and Mindsets

In a school setting it is common for students to feel like they are competing against each other. This can make failure very hard as they may compare themselves to a friend or another student who has done better and feel as though they will never be able to succeed at the same level. It is therefore important that teachers and parents represent failure as a positive and necessary step to improving. When a student does not achieve a result they are hoping for, let him know that it's not because he can't do it, it's just that he can't do it yet. This will encourage him to adopt a growth mindset and see failure as an opportunity to do better next time and not a final determination of how good/bad he is at something.

Failure is one part of life we all experience at some point. It's how we deal with failure that determines how much we grow and learn though experiences. Learning from failure is fundamental to student achievement and motivation at school.

Psychologist Carol Dweck is a pioneer in the areas of motivation and why people succeed. Her research is on growth mindset - the idea we can grow our brains capacity to learn and to solve problems. Interestingly, she has found that praising a child's intelligence and ability doesn't necessarily foster self-esteem or lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. It's not just our abilities and talents that bring us success, but whether we approach our goals with a fixed or growth mindset.

Ms Shauna Lipscombe

Senior School Psychologist