We live in an age of rapid technological advancement that has changed how we learn, communicate, and problem solve. Almost every day, new programs and applications emerge, all intended to stimulate the minds of our students. Technology has also entered the classroom through electronic white boards and the use of devices such as laptops, Chromebooks and tablets. As a teacher with over 30 years of classroom experience, I must admit that this is a learning revolution with no precedent.
Students now have instant and abundant access to sources ranging from scholarly articles to online math tutoring. This technological revolution is a blessing for both students and teachers, alike, as it allows teachers to offer different learning strategies, aimed at the unique learning styles of their students. Keeping all of this in mind, one would assume that this generation of students is smarter and more agile than its predecessors. Perhaps this may be true to an extent, but there is a worrying trend among employers and professors who are struggling to teach these very students: while students excel in memorizing and performing on assessments, they lack vital soft skills such as problem solving and critical thinking. To put it simply, many students lack the ability to learn independently and apply their learning to real-world situations.
Fortunately, we can encourage the necessary skill development within our students by encouraging them to adopt a growth mindset, a term popularized by psychologist Carol Dweck that is gaining increasing use within educational circles. Individuals with growth mindsets are not afraid of failure; instead, through hard work and motivation, they continuously self-improve. When faced with difficult situations, they are more inclined to take on the task, regardless of the initial result. In comparison, individuals with fixed mindsets prefer to stay within their comfort zones and become accustomed to the acknowledgement they receive for tasks in which they excel. A student with a fixed mindset who is struggling in math class might think of him or herself as not being smart or not being “good at math”, while a student with a growth mindset understands that accomplishment comes with practice and effort, and that he or she may not be good at math yet.
In a world in which the job market is becoming increasingly saturated with candidates holding multiple university degrees, the adoption of a growth mindset may just be the differentiator your child needs. The beauty of a growth mindset is that it can easily be encouraged and adopted, and as educators and parents, we need to nurture our students and children to foster this positive approach. Although technology has improved many ways in which students learn, one can argue that it may not necessarily nurture some of the most fundamental learning skills that were previously developed through hard work and perseverance. Over-reliance on technology can lead to complacency, and by encouraging students to tackle difficult situations and improve on their mistakes, we can help them develop a growth mindset that will serve them well throughout their lives. In an ever-changing world, the most important lesson a student can learn is how to become successful through self- improvement and growth.
For further information regarding the growth mindset, you may find the following resources to be valuable: