In education news. In our fast changing, technologically advanced world, we need to prepare our children for jobs which do not yet exist, using technologies not yet invented to solve problems we do not

Professor Carol Dweck. Photo courtesy

Professor Carol Dweck. Photo courtesy

yet have.  They will need to be constantly learning, unlearning and relearning….throughout their lives. What can a parent or teacher do?

Giving children what Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University calls a “growth mindset” is critical. The “growth mindset” is  a  fundamental  belief  that “ talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. “   –  and that this is far more important to success than IQ or “natural ability”.  Research shows that this belief encourages children to love learning, relish challenges and embrace change. It encourages optimism and resilience, the “true grit” that highly successful people have always had.

The growth mindset helps to raise achievement levels of all children, but according to the Evidence Based Teachers Network, it is especially empowering for ethnic minority and low achieving children.

The problem is, the UK’s IQ obsessed, “fixed mindset” culture  seems to permeate education policy and our state schools in particular. In the words of Professor Dweck, children have a fixed mindset when they believe that  “ their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that.”

130 Asian and British education policy makers concluded in a September 2013  study commissioned by the British Council that this fixed mindset “partly accounts for the long standing socio economic gap in pupil attainment at all stages of English schooling”.

bright and gifted child. Photo courtesy

 Photo courtesy

Education experts suggest that the fixed mindset causes many children to give up on subjects like science and math when they get difficult. They assume they simply do not have what it takes.

Clearly, the fixed mindset is robbing our children of optimism and aspirations, as well as the  “true grit” they need to compete and  succeed in the years ahead.

There is ample evidence that elite independent schools in the UK embrace a growth mindset. The high achieving Asian cultures also typically embrace a growth mindset. Discoveries in neuroscience over the past few decades clearly support the growth mindset.  This begs the question, why are so many of Britain’s state schools seemingly wedded to the fixed mindset? Is there any wonder that the OECD have found that British school children are up to three years behind their peers in the Far East?

Interestingly,  a Future Think random survey of 100 adults who grew up in the Caribbean revealed that 87% had a growth mindset.

The good news is that mindsets can and do change. Both parents and teachers have tremendous power to gift the growth mindset to children.  There are highly effective, tried and proven strategies out there. To read more about the growth mindset, see

This is the last in the six part “Jobs and the Future” series of articles by the Cadsti Future Think Project, an initiative of the Caribbean Diaspora for Science, Technology & Innovation (UK).For more information, email

End ©Future Think 29 November 2013