Embracing a Growth Mindset

Embracing a Growth Mindset

Friday 31 May

Our girls’ self-motivation and discipline to achieve their personal best is a reminder of the exceptional learning culture and commitment to personal excellence that our St Hilda’s girls embrace.

We should never underestimate hard work and commitment and its role in our girls’ achievements. The research in this area is quite convincing. Effort outweighs IQ when it comes to personal excellence. Research supports the belief that hard work, dedication and commitment are not only leading characteristics in achieving personal excellence, but THE leading behaviours closely linked to personal success.

Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University has been leading the way in human behaviours and its impact on personal success for many years. A ‘growth mindset’ is about stretching and growing our capabilities to extend beyond what we perceive as possible for us. A ‘fixed mindset’ limits us in our possibilities. Our mindset plays out in our behavior, at all ages.

In the context of education, facing our academic challenges with a growth mindset shifts our priority to learning, rather than validating what we are currently not good at. Our inner voice is powerful. The messages we tell ourselves are meaningful and we do listen to them, especially the negative messages. How can we change our girls thinking if they are having self-doubts about their ability? What can we say to them, as parents and teachers, to encourage the ‘can do’ attitude that so many of our girls are renowned for?

Some of the thinking shared below (in the left hand column) may sound familiar to you as parents. Below are some suggestions (in the right hand column) that we can use to support the development of a growth mindset in our girl’s approach to their learning.


Instead of………

Try Thinking………..

I’m not good at this

What am I missing?

I’m awesome at this

I’m on the right track

I give up

I’II use some of the strategies I’ve learnt in class

This is too hard

This may take some time and effort

I can’t make this any better

I can always improve so I’II keep trying

I just can’t do Mathematics

I’m going to train my brain in Mathematics

I made a mistake

Mistakes help me to learn better

She is so smart. I will never be that smart.

I know my brains is unique to me. I’m going to figure out how to do it and try my best.

It’s good enough

Is it really my best work?

Plan A didn’t work

Good thing the alphabet has 25 more letters!


A great gift to our girls is to encourage them to love and embrace challenges.

Encouraging our girls’ effort and not just acknowledging their achievement and intellect, allows our girls to build up their own confidence and motivation so that they don’t become afraid of making mistakes and not scoring a perfect grade. The fear of not achieving perfection can prevent some girls from taking on the challenge. As soon as this ‘fixed mindset’ sets in, our girls are limiting their true capabilities and potential.

Shifting our conversations with our girls from praising ability to praising effort helps our girls to develop a healthy relationship with achievement and become their personal best.