July 30, 2017
Our summer intern Poppy reflects on mentor camaraderie and insights into the growth mindset
The Growth Mindset
I was invited to sit in on the 2 mentor training session, 3 of 5 and the 2 hour session flew by! I was impressed with everyone's enthusiasm to share their experiences and group sense of camaraderie. The session was packed with theory and ideas about the value of reflection and metacognition! I was particularly interested in Carol Dweck’s theory of a ‘growth mindset’ which finds that success stems from believing that achievement is based on hard work and learning rather than innate ability.
Summarising her research succinctly, Dweck says,
“Mindsets create a whole psychological world for students. In a fixed mindset world, you don’t want challenges because if you don’t succeed, you’re not as smart as you thought. You don’t like hard work because if it doesn’t come naturally, it means you’re stupid. You don’t want to ask for help because that’s stigmatising. And then when you have setbacks, you think ‘This is undermining. I give up.'
In a growth mindset, the same things have opposite meanings. A challenge is a way to develop. Hard work and help from another are ways to achieve more. And setbacks are an important part of learning."
A Professor of Psychology at Stanford university, Dweck’s research has been tested in areas of disadvantage across the US, in Harlem, The Bronx and Native American Reservations. Perhaps most famously, the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) schools in the US, have also taken this research on board, ensuring growth mindset is taught alongside and with equal focus to academic subjects. (Could we expand this? - explain why they introduced it in first place because of university dropout.)
SEEING SETBACKS AS OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH
Back to the session. The CMN mentors began by reflecting on applying a growth mindset in their own work. The group discussed the idea that in the creative industries, building from setbacks is essential. One mentor, Jagmit, a developer at Tribal, gave a great example of how he has to use this kind of mindset in his work on a daily basis. “With developing, there is no roadmap. When a client comes to us with a problem, we say yes, and figure out the best way to solve it through trying things out and being creative. Learning from mistakes is our bread and butter.”
Failure and trying new things
What has growth mindset got to do with diversity and equal access to opportunities in the creative industries? The CMN programme trains mentors to encourage the young people they’re working with to ‘take the reigns’. Mindset is essential to being responsible for their own development beyond the CMN programme. Mentors may not always be on hand to support their mentees to move past setbacks. Developing this skill for themselves ensures they will be much better equipped to deal with the trials of professional life.
As the session drew to a close, I contemplated the impact of a growth mindset on my own life, and how I might be able to start seeing setbacks as an opportunity for growth. This left me wishing that I had had someone reminding me of this fact throughout my schooling career - and jealous of these mentees to be partnered with people so invested in their growth!