Challenging Cultural Shift: Moving More Toward a Growth Mindset

Trust. Vulnerability. Growth. Time. Innovation.

During a recent PSHE lesson, our homeroom was tasked with identifying elements of our school’s “Cultural Iceberg“, and the point of growth came up. Some students argued that we value growth at our school, as “Most Improved” awards are given out at the whole school year-end assembly. Others pointed to the fact that we support many service projects and a Personal Development Week each year. Several more examples of the “holistic” nature of our school were cited as evidence of our emphasis on growth.

But then a few voices mentioned the value our culture places on grades. Transcripts are kept and shared with students from the beginning of grade 9. The college application process is introduced to students early, often emphasizing the importance of external testing and achieving the highest marks possible. A few mentioned how their parents place grades above all else in measuring achievement/success.

I came away from the conversation feeling like I wished we had spent the whole hour debating and unpacking this point. What is the right balance to find between growth and grades? To what extent do grades demonstrate growth? My colleague Vicky Wasner recently posted on the importance of practicing the values we believe in. I think that’s the right attitude, and a great start toward shifting a school’s culture to one which embraces more of the growth mindset.

It’s easier said than done. But by discussing it, perhaps we’ll uncover underlying assumptions with regard to mindset and school values, and move closer to doing something about it.

One thought on “Challenging Cultural Shift: Moving More Toward a Growth Mindset

  1. That is indeed the crux of if, John. We provide opportunities for growth, but we don’t embrace growth. Not yet. If we really embraced growth, we would be giving kids choice and voice in their learning so that they could define success as it applies to them and their passions. I know we are on our way, but it will be time before we feel the freedom to move away from grades, exams, external verification of what we do.


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