The highest aim of education is to develop driven, efficacious learners. That's what will best enable them to thrive.
Why ignite lifelong growth?
Today's world is a learner's paradise and a non-learner's pit. The accessibility of knowledge, rapid pace of change, and vastness, present unlimited opportunities for exploration, growth, and contribution. Driven learners:
- have a source of happiness and fulfillment that nobody can take away from them;
- adapt, learn, and grow more, and as a result are better able to achieve their goals, especially given today's complexity and fast pace of change; and
- are more successful learners in school, in competencies from numeracy, literacy and critical thinking, to exploring passions and developing long-term goals and expertise.
What is more important for education to do than to ignite lifelong growth?
We know a lot about how to develop driven learners
In the last few decades, we have learned a lot about how to nurture students as motivated and effective learners. Effective educators focus on cultivating the beliefs, strategies, and habits that drive learning. A large body of rigorous research is validating these practices. Teachers and researchers now understand that learning-oriented behaviors must emanate from students, driven by their beliefs and their know-how. Students must develop a growth mindset, which is the understanding that they can grow their abilities through effective effort. They must feel they belong to a learning community. They must come to regard the work they are doing as interesting, valuable, or relevant to their own goals. They must believe that they can succeed. They must know and adopt effective learning strategies (Farrington, et al., 2012).
Of course, as a society we will always continue to learn how to improve everything we do, including how to develop students as motivated learners, but there are lots of strategies that have already been shown to be effective.
The shift is underway
Driven by compelling, rigorous research and educators focused on the higher aim of education, the shift is taking place. Many schools are making learning stimulating and relevant, cultivating growth mindset cultures, and inviting students to the driver seat of learning.
Examples of schools that do this effectively and continue to improve on it are found within The Hewlett Foundation's Deeper Learning Network, which includes Asia Society, Big Picture Learning, Envision Schools, Expeditionary Learning, High Tech High, and New Tech Network. Many other schools, in districts across the country and abroad, are also cultivating growth mindset school cultures in which students develop learning-oriented dispositions and competencies. These schools deliver learning experiences that are very different from what most classrooms looked like in the past, and as a result, they are more successful at igniting lifelong growth. As motivated learners, students achieve more highly in basic competencies such as numeracy, literacy, and critical thinking, they attend more rigorous colleges at higher rates, and they drop out less frequently (Zeiser, et al., 2014). Most important, many of these students find passions that ignite lifelong growth. I invite you to research and visit these schools, which love to disseminate their work and collaborate with others to continue learning and pushing the envelope together.
Beyond the classroom, broad interest in developing students as driven and effective learners is growing. In the last three years, google searches for "growth mindset" have multiplied by a factor of 10; Khan Academy, one of the largest learning websites, has adopted a growth mindset message; and the United States President and First Lady have incorporated growth mindset language into their speeches. The U.S. National Education Technology Plan mentions that "learners should have the opportunity to develop a sense of agency in their learning and the belief that they are capable of succeeding in school," and they highlight our Mindset Works® SchoolKit as a means to do so.
We can realize lifelong learning for all students
The future of education is in developing driven and efficacious lifelong learners, who will make for comprise an exciting, more fulfilling world. That is our audacious goal. We invite everyone to join the movement.
Briceño, E. (2013). Mindsets and Student Agency. Unboxed: A Journal of Adult Learning in
Schools, 10(1), 107-115. Available at: http://www.hightechhigh.org/unboxed/issue10/mindsets_and_student_agency_contributors/
Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House.
Farrington, C.A., Roderick, M., Allensworth, E., Nagaoka, J., Keyes, T.S., Johnson, D.W., &
Beechum, N.O. (2012). Teaching adolescents to become learners. The role of noncognitive factors in shaping school performance: A critical literature review. Chicago: University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Available at: https://ccsr.uchicago.edu/publications/teaching-adolescents-become-learners-role-noncognitive-factors-shaping-school
Zeiser, K., Taylor, J., Rickles, J., Garet, M., & Segeritz, M. (2014). Evidence of deeper learning outcomes. Report #3 Findings From the Study of Deeper Learning: Opportunities and Outcomes. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Available at: http://www.air.org/resource/evidence-deeper-learning-outcomes-3-3