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As I proof-read sets of reports, I wonder if we should only make a comment if we would be willing to state its opposite:
Joe is a bright and very pleasant pupil Joe is a dim or very unpleasant pupil Joe is making excellent progress with this course Joe is making poor progress with this course Joe is highly motivated Joe is unmotivated It is a pleasure teaching Joe I am not enjoying teaching Joe Joe is an excellent student Joe is a poor student Joe always acts on advice                                     Joe sometimes fails to act on the advice I give him Joe is very capable Joe is not very capable Joe is a hardworking boy Joe is a lazy boy
We would happily state some of these "opposites", but some seem completely inappropriate!
Actually it seems to me that we are happy to make positive statements about the identity of a person - they are bright, excellent, intelligent, capable, hardworking etc., but much more reticent about making matching negative statements. We couch the…

Mindset is a Social Justice Issue for Scottish High Schools

Students arrive at high school with varying degrees of prior learning. It is clear from national statistics in Scotland that children from deprived homes have learned less by the end of primary, on average, than children from affluent homes.  It's an uncomfortable but undeniable fact, and I am in no way criticising the efforts being made by primary schools.  At high school, just like our primary colleagues, we want to do something about closing this gap.If, when children arrive at high school, a teacher mislabels these levels of prior learning as levels of ability, brightness or intelligence (which is a fixed-mindset approach) then I can't see how such a teacher will really believe that under-attaining children from deprived homes will be able to close the gap between their learning and the learning of their higher attaining peers.  Such a teacher will recognise that there is a gap and may aspire to do something about closing it - but they will also believe that the under-atta…

Yet Another Post About Growth Mindset

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We want to promote growth mindsets in the North Berwick High School community. If you haven't heard of growth mindsets, this video by Carol Dweck (who developed the concept) explains it well. Here's how I picture the virtuous cycle of beliefs in a growth-mindset relationship between a student and her teacher:


Mindset is not magic, as Nick Rose explains so clearly here. Effective learning relies on us getting many other things right: curriculum structures; excellent course and lesson plans; strong positive relationships with students and parents; teachers with sound content knowledge, high expectations and excellent pedagogical skills; communities that value learning... the list could fill a book. But it is clear from the research that growth mindset interventions do have the potential to make a positive difference. I believe that psychologically informed approaches to school improvement will gain traction in the coming years, and that growth mindset interventions will come to …