The growth mindset is also the learning mindset


In my previous post, I discussed the 5 Dimensions of the Growth Mindset and suggested that the concept is not binary but a continuum over five different Dimensions. It means that you can be growth, fixed or a combination of both along five different planes, and together they form your collective growth mindset profile. This further suggests that we are not ALL fixed or growth; and also we are not ALL both! Current literature also seems to suggest that the growth mindset is good and the fixed mindset is bad, a mindset that our research refutes. In fact, your mindset tendencies are dependent on your immediate past, your professional and personal requirements, and your knowledge and experience. In this, and the following 4 posts, I shall uncover each of the 5 Dimensions a little more, and to help you see the complex beauty of the growth mindset.


The Learning Dimension

To recap, the 5 Dimensions of the Growth Mindset (5DGM) are Learning, Bounce Back, Risk Taking, Forward and Pride. These 5 Dimensions work inter-connectedly with one another, making the concept of the growth mindset a complex one. Let's focus our discussion today on the Learning Dimension.


Growth comes from uncovering what we don't know, and integrating that into what we do. According to Bloom's Taxonomy, the stages of learning are (starting from the base of the pyramid):



Hence the first stage of learning is uncovering new knowledge. This can come from formal learning, like attending a class or a certification course, or it can come informally by reading a book or watching a documentary.


The second stage is comprehension, meaning that you need to understand what the new knowledge is and the context within which that new knowledge is framed. At this stage of learning, we ask ourselves, "How does this knowledge change my world view? What does this mean to my current thinking?"


The third stage is application and that obviously happens when you have stretched your new knowledge, and found ways to apply them. It is helpful to keep the time gap between comprehension and application as short as possible, so as not to lose learning momentum.


The fourth stage is analysis, and here we look at what happened as we had applied the new knowledge acquired. Did it turn out well? Is there a gap in my understanding? Did I hypothesise wrongly? Were my assumptions right? Which assumptions need to be reassessed?


The fifth stage, synthesis, is where we integrate the new knowledge and applications to current ones, creating a new normal. We are usually cautious in doing this because it tends to shake the status quo, and we don't want to go changing processes and behaviour on a whim. Yet, when new knowledge has progressed thus far in the learning process, it would be time to synthesise that with current knowledge, and watch the sparks (or the lack thereof) fly.


The final stage is evaluation, and here is where we assess how the new knowledge fits in with the old, how the new concept forms a larger picture, and makes the old status quo much clearer.


Bloom's taxonomy is not linear, and it is a constant iteration of new knowledge, testing, re-evaluating, re-configuring, re-synthesising

You will realise that the Bloom's taxonomy is not linear, and it is a constant iteration of new knowledge, testing, re-evaluating, re-configuring, re-synthesising. It suggests that learning is never static, and never-ending.


There is a saying, which I cannot recall who said, that goes, "What is worse than someone who cannot learn? It is one who does not want to learn."


The Feynman Technique

I learnt about the Feynman Technique many years ago when I was teaching children. The method was created by Nobel Prize winner, Richard Feynman, who laid out four very simple steps:

  1. Choose a concept you want to learn

  2. Pretend that you are teaching that concept to a Primary 6 student

  3. Identify gaps in your understanding - return to the material and get clearer about it

  4. Review and simplify


KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid - is not simply a snarky comment, it is very true in understanding, applying and synthesising new knowledge.

Those of us who have young children, or who have brought up young children, understand this. But it is not applied just for children, it can be applied to everything that you learn. One of the reasons why I like to blog is not simply to share my knowledge, but to crystallise my thoughts and make it clear to everyone. If the feedback from the blogs - which admittedly are very few - say that my blog was too complex, then I know I still have not gotten my concept clear. And that requires me to review and simplify. KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid - is not simply a snarky comment, it is very true in understanding, applying and synthesising new knowledge.



When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Learning does not just come from books and documentaries, but in large part, also from experiences. When you enlarge your perspectives through new activities, collecting new experiences, you enrich your knowledge. That knowledge can also be filtered through Bloom's taxonomy. These experiences will help you navigate the world of different cultures, the world of different language, the world of different mentalities, the world of different mindsets. Each different experience enriches and expands your own self-concept and contributes to wisdom. So, when WAS the last time you did something for the first time?


So let us uncover all those ways to fail, so that we can likewise uncover those ways to succeed!

We don't know what we don't know

Finally, I would like to end by saying that we seldom get tripped up by what we know - it if often by what we don't know or by what we THOUGHT we knew. Assumptions usually get the better of us, and if we accepted our own worldview, our own self-concept with blind acceptance and faith, we are setting ourselves up to fail. This is because, in the vast universe of knowledge, there is much more that we don't know than what we do; and worse still, we don't know what we don't know. As such we need to embrace the world of learning; we need to uncover those new vistas of knowledge; we need to be childlike in operating in this world. Because there are more ways to fail than it is for us to succeed. So let us uncover all those ways to fail, so that we can likewise uncover those ways to succeed!



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