Tapping Learning Mindsets to Help All Students Learn

While we’ve made progress as a country in raising high school graduation rates, race and class remain the most reliable predictors of students’ educational outcomes at a time when our school system and our nation are becoming more diverse. In fact, the post-secondary completion gaps by race and income have increased over the last several decades.

Why? The education system we have today is a relic of another era. It was designed to provide the quality educational experience every young person needs to only a privileged few, sorting and tracking young people on the basis of their sex, their race, and their family’s income. And while that system is no longer overt, its legacy remains.

How do we create an education system that serves all young people well?

Results over the past two decades show us that we can’t address educational disparities simply by increasing rigor and focusing on teacher quality. Standards are important but they don’t address how and why children learn and the environments that help them thrive.

All kids are hardwired to be learners and doers. The challenge facing educators is to create a culture and climate that feeds this inherent desire to learn and to show each and every student that they have the ability to succeed.

The Mindset Scholars Network (MSN), made up of leading researchers in the science of learning, identified three key "learning mindsets" that affect how much, and how deeply students learn: Growth, Belonging, and Purpose.

Last week, MSN released an educational video explaining these mindsets and the school cultures that foster them, with the idea of generating discussion among educators around this important research.

By fostering an environment of growth, belonging, and purpose, schools help quiet psychological "noise" that can be isolating and distracting for students, and bolster each child's natural drive to learn.

Interested in learning more about Learning Mindsets approach to education reform?
  • To learn more about the Mindset Scholars Network you can visit the network’s blog. And you can support this groundbreaking work by making a contribution and by sharing this post and the video above.
  • You can also support the organizations helping educators build environments that foster growth, belonging, and purpose, including Building Assets Reducing Risks (BARR), EL Education, Equal Opportunity Schools, Network for College Success, Turnaround for Children, Teaching Excellence Network (TEN), Transcend Education, and Umoja.

Focusing on mindsets is a school reform strategy that does not require huge investments in technology, science labs, or other costly endeavors. Instead, it refocuses us all on the things we know help all young people learn, and they are things we can support within classrooms today.