Learning From Failure In The Classroom

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Students between the ages of 14 and 18 living in impoverished areas are less likely to receive an education that will help them thrive because they have little access to educational resources in their schools and because they face higher levels of stress created by socioeconomic circumstances. According to the founders of the growth mindset, Stanford psychologists Susana Claro, David Paunesku, and Carol S. Dweck (2015), “Socioeconomic background is one of the strongest, best-established predictors of academic achievement…. [and an] economic disadvantage can depress students’ academic achievement” (p. 1). One solution is to introduce the growth mindset to the students. A growth mindset will encourage students to perceive failure as an obstacle easily overcome by perseverance. A second solution to the issue will be giving access to the parents, teachers, and mentors the knowledge that cognitive science has provided: accepting failure and learning from it will likely destroy the barriers that are created by economic disadvantages.

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First and foremost, appropriately presenting the growth mindset to students in impoverished areas will enable them to expand their learning possibilities and, as a result, enhance their academic success. Research produced by Susana Claro, David Paunesku, and Carol S. Dweck (2015), reveals that “[F]or students with the same observable characteristics [such as family income], those with a growth mindset achieved at higher levels than those with a fixed mindset” (p. 3). The growth mindset is potentially beneficial for each student within the socioeconomic spectrum because it can override the effects shaped by economic disadvantages. A fixed mindset is unable to guarantee the same academic potential because it mounts to the previously established level of stress in a student as the student believes there is no use in trying when they do not understand anything right off the first bat. A second solution is in focusing on the adults in which the children look up to for guidance. Introducing the growth mindset to the mentors of the students will reinforce the students’ growth mindset. Psychologists Kyla Haimovitz and Carol S. Dweck (2016) have stated that “Parents are key to children’s motivation and success in school” (para. 1).

Parents who believe that intelligence is fixed, and that failure is debilitating, are more likely to have children who perceive failure as undesirable. A parent must avoid a fixed mindset because such mindset is detrimental to the students as it promotes a negative connotation of failure. Comparing failure to weakness will make the students wary of making mistakes and less likely to accept and learn from a failed experience. In conclusion, the growth mindset must be appropriately taught to the students and their mentors, so that these students can have the ability to overcome their fear of failure and improve not only their academic success but their success in dealing with stressful situations. The growth mindset will provide students insight on how to cope with problems that seem useless or impossible to solve at first. It will give these students the mentality that their intelligence is malleable, and that failure is a necessary and inevitable step towards learning.

11 February 2020

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