I had one of those ‘moments’ late last term, well actually I had several.
I was in the fortunate position to be able to co- teach a class with one of my colleagues and was pleased to realise that I still had much to learn as an educator and was able to professionally grow as a result of this opportunity. These were the personal ‘moments’ but more importantly was the ‘moment’ when I realised that I was observing the embodiment of Carol Dweck’s Growth Mind Set in a young 13 year old learner.
I felt a very real pleasure of seeing a very real physical manifestation of a currently popular theory. Most of us will be familiar with the concept of Growth versus Fixed mindsets and how important it is to have the former if we want to develop and grow as individuals. Dweck is obviously on to something as recently I have started to read the cynics and skeptics start to criticise and attack the whole Growth Mind Set concept. You know you are on to something important when the cynics start to voice their opinions.
Anyway back to the ‘moments’. The class in question was a one term Selected option called ‘Doodling for Change” The objective was to get the learners to research the vision and values of a community or service organisation like Canteen or Red Cross and prepare a creative portfolio that captured the essence of the chosen organisation in an imaginative way.
They were tasked with creating a doodle and a comic strip relating to their organisation and present their work on an actual product as well as a three board portfolio. To ensure that their final product looked polished they also had to refine their design using Illustrator and Photoshop.
As one of the teachers I only had limited skills to bring but certainly learnt a considerable amount from my enthusiastic colleague. It was very rewarding working on every aspect of the project as a team, we were able to constantly refine, review and reflect on the development of the projects as a team. This collaborative approach to teaching was my personal development and one that I certainly valued.
This paled in to insignificance though as I watched the learners develop their designs. In particular the journey of one of the learners caught my imagination. She was initially weighed down with self doubt and a lack of confidence but she persevered and worked with growing self belief to the point where her final designs were commendable to say the least [as pictured above and below].
The way she described her journey was an example of what can be achieved when a 13 year old adopts a Growth Mind Set. Before I let her words take over I must add that she is not a natural writer. Spelling and accuracy are not natural strengths but such was the pride that she took over her work that she applied the same effort to ensuring written accuracy as she did to her art design work. What follows are comments taken from her reflections on the project. Having worked alongside her over the term I feel that they accurately capture the progress she made once she adopted a Growth Mind Set. It was nice to experience that moment when theory and reality crash in to each other in a positive way that genuinely effects learner outcome.
“At the start of this project I didn’t really know what I was going to draw and didn’t have many ideas. I wasn’t confident in drawing because I thought that my drawings weren’t that good and when I looked at the other drawings I thought that they were really good. So that night I startted practicing my doodles and each time I started to get more and more confident at drawing and they stared to get better. I’m still not the best but I’m not the worst and I’m really happy how my doodling turned out. I was doing another drawing for Red Cross but I showed Mr Saville my drawing and he said that I should do this one, so I did.
Drawing the comic strip was probably the hardest task to complete. I had to redo this a couple of times because my lines were not thick enough.”