Everything I Needed to Know About the Growth Mindset -
I learned from Star Wars
For me and my family, Star Wars is life. Literally. We plan Christmases, vacations and many aspects of our lives around it. It is deep in the fabric of our family culture. So much so, in fact, that my first memory of life as a two-year old was watching the original Star Wars movie at the drive-in theatre. (both of those statements have just revealed my age, though!) Hours of movie watching, book reading, role playing and trusting the Force, it’s a part of who we are and what we do in our family.
Something else that is just a part of the family DNA is education. Generations of educators from kindergarten teachers, to university professors and every age group in between, across a wide array of disciplines. It’s “the family business.”
So, you can imagine my excitement as BOTH a Star Wars geek and an educator when I stumbled across videos of Yoda as a prime example of the growth mindset, posters showing the dark and light side of the Force and how they relate to mindset. What an exciting way to make a psychological principle accessible to the masses!
What is the growth and fixed mindset, you might ask? Psychologist Carol Dweck’s research led her to the conclusion that people’s mindsets can have an impact on their success. Those with a growth mindset believe that their intelligence and talent are just a starting point. Hard work, accepting challenges, and persisting in the face of setbacks, will allow for the potential to learn more, learn more quickly and improve skills. If we believe we can grow our intelligence, persevere, persist, this can result in overall success in the tasks we encounter.
Those who have a fixed mindset, however, believe that intelligence and talent are fixed, mistakes are considered failure, instead of an opportunity to learn.
Reading about these concepts a few years ago, it all seemed so logical!
I knew all of this stuff years ago, as isn’t this what the Jedi have been teaching us all along?
Patience, persistence, learning from others, listening to feedback and information from others - these are the lessons of the Jedi. They have a growth mindset.
Not listening to others, reacting negatively to setbacks, believing you can’t change or improve (or thinking you’re already great as you are), and scared of letting others see your mistakes - this is the Dark Side at work. In the Star Wars universe, this results in disasters for the bad guys.
Actually, rewatching the Star Wars movies through this lens made me deeply appreciate the lessons of the Jedi. (and perhaps explains some people’s dislike for the prequels? Anakin really has a fixed mindset!!)
But, ultimately, I thought, how can these lessons help me as a teacher, and a teacher of teachers?
My years in the classroom definitely had it’s fair share of kids who loved Star Wars as much as me (well, maybe not quite!), but even for the kids who didn’t know Star Wars, the lessons and words of the Jedi were accessible to all.
Learning takes patience and time.
I can keep learning new knowledge and skills.
Slow down and think.
I can do it.
Mistakes help me learn.
In preparation for an Ignite-style (i.e. a really fast!) presentation I did recently as part of my day job (Teacher Consultant for POPEI), I created and presented “The Mindset Awakens”, a five minute overview of how Star Wars teaches us all we need to know about the growth and fixed mindset.
The video can be found below...opening crawl and all!
I was inspired by the posters created by TeacherPaulP , and I thought about how the phrases from my presentation could be used in classrooms to help talk to younger students about growth and fixed mindsets.
So, below are some some posters I created, aimed at younger students. (right click to save!)
These are just one of the many tools that teachers could use to help guide students towards a growth mindset, and the lessons of the Jedi…and the light side of the Force.
images are from my many, many copies in every possible format of the Star Wars movies ©Lucasfilm Ltd.
The Growth and Fixed Mindset poster images are from Dorky Prints