In Week 3, the School Muster had a wellbeing focus and connected with three components of the Australian Student Wellbeing Framework.
The student leaders of Farrell House began with a presentation on the importance of having a ‘growth’ not ‘fixed’ mindset; something we cover in Year 10 Wellbeing lessons. The Blue Group leaders then spoke about the important role of the Blue Group in empowering students’ voice at St Peter’s College.
St Peter’s College recently introduced a termly effort grade as part of our ongoing assessment process. One of the reasons we felt grading effort was important is because research tells us that how hard you try to succeed, and keep trying to succeed, as a key reflection of a growth mindset – a key determinant of success.
Eminent psychologist and Stanford University Professor, Carol Dweck, created the term ‘Growth Mindset’ and emphasised the importance of effort to growth as “… focussing on the strategies they use, the way they are stretching themselves and taking on hard tasks [and] their intense practice. It’s about the process of growth”.
By praising the effort to improve, learners are more likely to persevere and become successful. Effort is the key to personal growth, along with accepting that mistakes and poor performance will happen along the way. Teachers support the process of growth by, in partnership with students, nurturing a Growth Mindset approach to the academic, co-curricular and social challenges of life. With a Growth Mindset approach to challenges, we will give up less quickly, and succeed more frequently.
When teachers focus on the sustained effort of a learner, growth will be more likely to follow, especially if the student commits fully to the growth process too. As stated earlier, it’s a partnership between student and teacher. Of course, the parent has a key role to play here also. Parents can reinforce the Growth Mindset approach, by encouraging their sons to welcome and feel comfortable with the ‘poor performance’ phase of learning. Far from fearing failure, a Growth Mindset embraces failure (mistakes), and not looking good in front of others, as a necessary and normal aspect of learning.
We know that everyone needs to feel success, at least occasionally. Just as continually struggling and failing damages our wellbeing, feeling successful and competent boosts our motivation and wellbeing. Having a Growth Mindset approach to challenges enables us to tackle challenges positively and thus succeed more often and therefore, “feel good and function well” (definition of Wellbeing – Huppert & So, 2013).
Of course, some people seem to naturally have a Growth Mindset and always jump headfirst into life’s challenges, whereas others are more fragile and react more negatively to moving beyond their comfort zone. Research tells us that you can move from a fixed to a Growth mindset through becoming more aware of the key factors of a Growth and Fixed Mindset (below) and beginning to apply them to everyday life.
The Growth Mindset part of the Muster concluded with an excellent video, created by Chirath Lekamge and Chamith Waragoda, to show how students and staff at St. Peter’s College have benefited from a Growth Mindset approach to their own challenges. Thanks must go to the Farrell house leaders, and Chirath in particular, for their work in creating such an impressive video for this important school muster. They certainly demonstrated a Growth Mindset towards the challenge that I set them! Click here to watch the video.
Last year, Tim Prince, Oliver Cobain and I visited Scotch College to meet with their Student Wellbeing Captains, to discuss how student voice was empowered at Scotch College. Tim and Oliver returned with some excellent ideas and fuelled with a passion to invigorate student voice at St Peter’s College. They subsequently formed the ‘Blue Group’ which became the forum for any Senior School students to discuss any important issues. The initial focus, during the COVID lockdown period, was on student mental health and wellbeing but as normality returned, the range of issues being discussed has increased to embrace all aspects of student life.
Alex Karytinos and Arthur Drayton have led the Blue Group this year. At Muster, Alex spoke about the range of issues that boys have discussed in Term 1, and Arthur called for more students to be part of Blue Group, to ensure that opinions are representative of the entire student body. We strongly encourage more boys to attend, especially from the Middle Years, and stress that this is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate leadership and exercise influence over important aspect of School life.
Head of Wellbeing