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Growth mindset and brain plasticity – the neuroscientific underpinnings of learning

Written by: David Bowman
7 min read
David Bowman, Teacher of Mathematics, GLOW Maths hub, UK The article ‘Mistakes, mindsets and mathematics’ (Bowman, 2018) discussed the four academic mindsets (Farrington et al., 2012) that are the core of the ‘YesUCan’ message (Figure 1). ‘YesUCan’ is a belief that, with effort and great teaching, it is possible to improve in all things. It develops a culture where everyone expects to be better today than they were yesterday. This article revisits these mindsets and discusses brain plasticity, which is the biological basis for a growth mindset.  Figure 1: Diagrammatic representation of YesUCan As depicted in Figure 1, there are four academic mindsets identified by Farrington et al. (2012) that have a significant impact on whether learning takes place. A great amount has been written about growth mindset (Dweck, 2008), much of it questioning the validity of studies and its benefits to students’ learning. Examples include Fletcher-Wood (2022), Li and Bates (2019) an

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