Engagement through Mastery

Learning Landscape Wednesday, 07 Sept 2022

At Living Faith, we believe that students learn best when they are engaged and know the purpose of what they are doing. There are three main strivers for engagement; autonomy, purpose and mastery. In previous articles, I have outlined how Living Faith develops a culture of autonomy and purpose. But how do we intrinsically foster an environment where students can feel a sense of mastery? 

Mastery is the desire to improve and grow. It is an intrinsic driver focused on wanting to continually get better at something. We often don’t use the term mastery here at Living Faith, however, there is another term that you would have heard a lot about: Growth Mindset. A growth mindset stems from the research of Carol Dweck and is essentially the idea that anyone can learn and improve with effort and perseverance. A growth mindset is an important skill for developing lifelong learners who are inquisitive and see mistakes as learning opportunities. 

How do we promote a Growth Mindset and a drive for Mastery? 
Growth Mindset Week

At the beginning of each school year, we take a week to focus solely on developing an understanding of a growth mindset and how our brains learn. Students who show a growth mindset are more likely to engage with tasks, keep trying even when things are difficult and have more confidence in their abilities. Growth Mindset week is an important springboard for setting up this thinking and helping to build a culture where students are willing to try new things and develop resilience. 

Mindset Maths

The development of a growth mindset is at the forefront of planning and especially takes centre stage in subjects such as Maths. Mindset Maths was designed to embed a growth mindset approach to a subject where students often can put up blocks because they feel they are not ‘good at it’. The purpose of Mindset Maths is to shift this thinking so that students learn that there is no such thing as a maths brain and that the brain is capable of adapting, growing and forming new connections. 

Culture and Language…….The Power of YET

At Living Faith, we are very intentional about developing a culture where mistakes are celebrated as learning opportunities and students feel more comfortable taking risks because there is no stigma attached to getting it wrong.  Teachers model a growth mindset and continually use growth mindset language in the classroom. As part of our lessons we explicitly teach students that our mindset towards a task can significantly affect the outcome. Therefore the language we use has a huge impact on our learning. We teach students to add ‘yet’ to all their negative comments about their learning.

  • “I don't understand this” becomes “I don't understand this ...YET”. 
  • “I’m not good at this...YET”
  • “This doesn’t work...YET”
  • “I can’t do this...YET”
  • “This doesn’t make sense...YET”

The power of YET reinforces that the mind is made to learn and it is through struggle and challenge that we build stronger and more lasting neural connections. 

Intentionally taking time to grow in our students' intrinsic motivation helps them strive for mastery, not because there will be a reward but because the challenge itself and the sense of accomplishment is reward enough. This is an essential component in fostering engaged,  lifelong learners.

- Bianca Ravi, Director of Learning