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  • Writer's pictureJanelle Safford

The Message of YET!

People react to difficulty and failure in different ways. Some people believe that failure is proof that their abilities are fixed or unchangeable and there isn't a lot that can be done about it. People with a growth mindset, however, tend to view obstacles as opportunities to improve and learn. This is where the message of "YET" comes in. Instead of failure, "YET" implies that learning is a process that includes ups and downs and that overcoming those failures is a valuable part of the learning process that will eventually lead to success, even if the success in question is purely the experience itself.

I think the message of “yet” sums up what it means to be a life long learner.  I think it reflects an attitude of “what is to be” instead of just “what is”. Adopting the growth mindset can and will slowly change the way we, as adults, view ourselves. In general, I think we tend to believe that it is okay for young children to have a growth mindset, but when we reach a certain's all over.  Changing this idea that learning can happen at any age will also not only have an impact on adult learners, but will also be evident in the expectations and ideology we pass on to our own children and students.

Getting feedback in the form of praise is sometimes the only feedback we ever want to hear. However, people with a growth mindset look at both praise and criticism as opportunities to grow.  Mistakes are no longer considered a dreadful sentence of failure, but are taken as opportunities to learn.  This, in turn transforms a negative into a positive where growth and learning take place with each failure and success is not deemed the finish line.

"Can the growth mindset help limit some of your own or your students' preoccupation with grades?"

Oh how I wish this statement could be true in every school setting.  I come from a early childhood education background and our assessment system often consisted of “Developed” or “Still Developing”. During parent conferences, I would often discuss the fact that for the skills that were “Still Developing” it was not an indication of how smart the student was, but where they were in their learning development.  I explained that not every child will learn every concept at the same pace or at the same time.  This was, for the most part considered sound practice for 5 year olds,  but only one short year later they are deemed failures if they can’t all read at a certain level by the end of the year.  This creates a student and parent mindset that the child is simply not up to par with the other students.  Fast forward to middle and high school and those same students, and many times parents,  have decided that it isn't worth the time or effort to “catch up” to the other students.  Since we are stuck with a formal grading system in public school settings, I think that cultivating a growth mindset in our students and teachers would lessen the effect that grades, both good and bad, have on how the student/adult learner feels about him(her)self.

This image of Sylvia Duckworth's depiction of the perception of success compared to what really goes into ultimate success is a great example of a growth mindset.1

If you haven't heard about Khan Academy's Learn Storm Activities  please check them out.  They have developed a six week challenge of personalized student practice activities meant to strengthen skills and develop strong growth mindsets. You can sign up here.  LearnStorm 2017

I also love this statement from the Mindset Works website:

"researchers started noticing that teacher practice has a big impact on student mindset, and the feedback that teachers give their students can either encourage a child to choose a challenge and increase achievement or look for an easy way out."


The Iceberg Illusion by Sylvia Duckworth. (2016). GRAD | LOGIC.

Khan Academy. (2017). Khan Academy 

The Growth Mindset - What is Growth Mindset - Mindset Works . (2017).

Teacher Practices . (2017).

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