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-attaining students are inherently less able to learn. If, on the other hand, a teacher sees levels of prior learning as just that, and makes no judgement about the potential of their students (a growth mindset approach) then they are more likely to believe in the possibility of closing the gap.

Clearly a fixed-mindset attitude towards the potential of students is bad for all under-attaining students, but children from deprived homes will be disproportionately disadvantaged.

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