In early years education, children will inevitably experience failure on a regular basis as it is rare for any of us to do something new on our first attempt. At this young stage we can foster a growth mindset by teaching that failure is an important part of learning and not the end point. FAIL – First Attempt In Learning. This applies to anything from learning to ride a bike, to learning to read or learning quadratic equations!
While mindfulness is distinctly different to Mindset, they both go hand in hand to foster a positive learning environment.
Mindfulness refers to a form of awareness whereby one observes and non-judgementally pays attention to thoughts and feelings as well as being cognisant of what is happening outside the body in the world. A mindfulness practice can help loosen the grip of habitual, self-limiting, and ‘fixed’ ways of thinking about and responding to ourselves and other students in the classroom.
Teachers can play a big part in fostering their students mindfulness, firstly from the way they use praise and feedback – if a student learns that a teacher values effort, learning from mistakes and perseverance they are more likely to be motivated and enjoy and embrace the learning process.
A mindful teacher also recognises their own mindset and is likely to be more observant at spotting a students individual strengths and focus less on their limitations.
Mindfulness training can also decrease activity in those areas of the brain associated with anxiety, worry, and impulsivity.
A growth mindset is the biggest asset for future career success.
Environments that focus on intelligence and achievements can lead to failure-avoidance whereby students would rather not try at all than risk failure and humiliation. If students are taught that effort and persistence are key they are more willing to keep trying until they are successful and ultimately learn more and progress further.
Students with a growth mindset are more likely to embrace working in teams all sharing unique ideas to help complete a challenge.
By removing any negative connotations associated with failure, students are more likely to embrace and enjoy the learning process. The are free to enjoy a new activity even if they aren’t very good at it. They won’t feel bad when they get something wrong which will improve their self esteem and remove any stress and anxiety.
In a study performed by Baer, Grant, and Dweck (2005), students in the fixed mindset had higher levels of depression because they ruminated over problems and setbacks. In another report from researchers at Duke University, there was a strong link found between anxiety and depression among females who aspire to “effortless perfection.”