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Growth Mindset

Published on: Friday, January 26, 2018

On Tuesday I was at a meeting where we were reminded of the value of having a ‘Growth Mindset’ – as opposed to a ‘Fixed Mindset’. Coincidentally, we then touched on this during our own Council Education and Pastoral committee meeting on Wednesday. Some of you may also remember that I talked about this as part of my speech at Prize Day in 2015 but it is always worth revisiting as personal growth encouraged alongside a lack of fear of failure is something we promote strongly at King’s Hall.

Carol Dweck is most prominently associated with research in this area and she would say that in a fixed mindset people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They're wrong.

Alternatively, “in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,” writes Dweck.

Through last term’s Tomato Challenge we had a wonderful level of engagement with some terrific children who were all prime examples of growth mindset – having a desire for continual self-improvement, a willingness to accept failings and tenacious perseverance. Having had such a positive experience and a desire to become part of our school to enjoy Years 7 and 8 in this special environment we were delighted that so many applied for our academic, music and sport 11+ Scholarships. Whether gaining a scholarship or not we would welcome them all as vibrant, enthusiastic and positive individuals to add to the dynamism and sense of purpose at King’s Hall. Incidentally, we have also had more than the usual number of current Year 5 children looking to join us either before this year is out or into Year 6 in September.

Well done to all those King’s Hall Year 6 children here who also put themselves forward for an 11+ Scholarship. Regardless of outcome, it is a good thing to put yourself forward to be challenged and to see it as a growth experience along the way. We are beginning to move into the time of year where Year 8 candidates will be going through the process in various disciplines and we wish them all good luck: we are proud to be supporting you.

Important Life Lessons

Published on: Friday, January 19, 2018

So, another Friday arrives without it feeling as if there have been seven sleeps since the last one – and, no, I haven’t indulged in a nuit blanche along the way if that’s what you’re thinking!

I’m not sure if it was intended as a bit of tough love as we work through the oft-perceived adversity of January but, at the recent Woodard Heads’ Conference, we listened to some philosophical affirmations framed by quotes from Kurt Hahn. Themes of service, compassion and ‘sensible self-denial’ were promoted.

We were encouraged to instil in all a recognition of the deep value to oneself and society of genuine service. “The experience of helping a fellow man in danger, or even of training in a realistic manner to be ready to give this help, tends to change the balance of power in a youth's inner life with the result that compassion can become the master motive.”

We were offered further examples that we are moulded by our experiences and, in particular, that we develop our inner strength and resilience for life through experiences that are not usually founded on hardship and certainly not pristine, saccharin or those where someone else has removed all the obstacles for us.

Kurt Hahn, again, said “Education must enable young people to effect what they have recognised to be right, despite hardships, despite dangers, despite inner scepticism, despite boredom, and despite mockery from the which reveal the inner worth of the child; the edge of their temper; the fibre of their stuff; the quality of their resistance; the secret truth of their pretences, not only to themselves but others.”

An empowering one for us all: “We are all better than we know. If only we can be brought to realise this, we may never be prepared to settle for anything less.”

A much repeated foundation to all this was that such development and transformation takes TIME. We are increasingly victim to the pace of life, ‘fast food’ and a growing sense of entitlement to instant gratification meaning we don’t always give space and time for such core fundamentals as character to be formed. In relation to my personal and professional experiences it all seemed to make a lot of sense to me.

Gosh – serious stuff for a Friday afternoon and certainly absolutely crucial, that’s for sure. However, by way of ending somewhat more light-hearted, I did find myself wondering what Mr Hahn’s take on ‘sensible self-denial’ would have been if faced with the post-Christmas chocolate stash.

Challenges, Goals and Resolutions

Published on: Friday, January 12, 2018

This week we have slid wondrously smoothly back into the ebb and flow of our daily routines – and blissfully free of coughing and spluttering. ‘Happy New Year’ is just about a phrase of the past as we look forward and set ourselves to work on all the events that lie ahead. January can be a less exhilarating time of the year but does allow us to get some sustained, undiluted hard yards under the belt in several disciplines, but most notably in class.

It is true that January can be a time when some feel not yet full of the joys of Spring ahead and, indeed, next Monday is the one that has become known as ‘Blue Monday’. Someone recently pointed me in the direction of a calendar from Action For Happiness which has some great daily suggestions whether you’re feeling somewhat glum or not! Do click here to have a look at it.

You will see that one of the recommendations is ‘Take a small step towards an important goal’ and, coincidentally, this is similar to my thoughts for the children during Monday’s assembly. New Year’s Resolutions are brilliant if you can make them stick and deliver on the promise. Equally, though, there are times that our best intentions fall on stony ground for a variety of reasons and one of them is that they become a burden or responsibility that is too great to bear due to the scale of the challenge. Starting out small and gently nurturing the idea can mean that after a little while you can see what the next step may be and then a tad further on the path ahead reveals itself once more until the route to completion becomes not only clearer but, importantly, with just a manageable distance to go.

A challenge and a glum-busting antidote not so far ahead is the Friends of King’s Hall Quiz night which I hope you’ll have in your diary by now and be gathering a team of 6 - only four weeks of swotting left! Click here or see the Newsletter to enter.

Have a good weekend.

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