According to a study by Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, a typical “growth mindset” is a polar opposite psychology to a “fixed mindset”. This can be shown in results when small changes to thinking patterns offered to students lead to large improvements in learning ability.
A tender approach to correcting errors of method is a vital ingredient to allowing students to feel confident in altering their methods, and identifying possible mistakes. Giving pupils negative associations to error in learning can result in a fixed mindset approach where absolute certainty is the defense mechanism to protect from the consequences of being wrong.
The way students learn will affect their entire lives as a foundation stone to all further experiences. A teacher is the role model as well as an educator, and they have a granted privilege of spending a significant amount of time with our young people at ultimately definitive parts of their lives. When we consider the effects of attitude on learning, and the effects of thought patterns on ability to achieve and get on in life, it makes sense that teachers are required to maintain exceptional mental health.
But how can we ask them to do this? With regulations and expectations stretching any well trained professional to tighter limits with each pass over of the books, for many years now, teachers have been complaining about the extra pressures put on them by increasingly stringent protocols. Pushing people to their natural limits with work load, regardless of the money involved, will result in a slow decrease in work quality. A balance needs to be found and with each school, each class, challenges will differ. Every student will have their story which will be incorporated into the way a teacher works, and every class will have different pupils ranging from one extreme end of society to another.
Because of the large diversity in the demands of what teachers are asked, expected, and employed to do, it is fair to say that we cannot invent a one size fits all scheme that attends to the mental health of teachers. This aspect of the education system cannot be overlooked, however, and perhaps a teacher can be given the same level of access to school nursing as a child would. Maybe if the same level of state care on offer to children was also available to those who care for and educate them, the subtle differences in thinking and self esteem of the staff will ultimately reflect on the class in big ways.
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