Thinking Rewired At Barnum Woods Elementary

Thinking Rewired At Barnum Woods Elementary photo

The introduction of “growth mindset” activities has been changing the way fifth-graders at Barnum Woods Elementary School approach learning. 

Following her research on achievement and success, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck coined the term “growth mindset” to refer to the underlying belief that one is able to learn and grow mentally by training and strengthening their brain. This is in contrast to a “fixed mindset,” in which one believes that they cannot learn new things and basic traits such as intelligence, character and personality are predetermined. When equipped with a growth mindset, students confront uncertainties and setbacks, see failure as an opportunity to learn, put forth a greater effort to learn and accept criticism as a way to change and grow.   

During an English Language Arts lesson, fifth-graders were asked to use their non-dominant hand to write their names and the date, draw a self-portrait, and cut and paste objects onto a separate piece of paper. Limited at first by a fixed mindset, the students reported feeling frustrated and unconfident when trying to finish the assignment. When they switched to a growth mindset, however, they embraced the challenge and persevered by understanding that effort and attitude make all the difference.     

Fifth-grade teachers Laurette Tamburello and Lissette Pellegrino explained that when students believe they can rewire their brains and boost their intelligence, they become more interested in learning and less afraid of facing failure.