I was talking to the Vice Chancellor of The University of Bradford, Brain Cantor, about a business problem I had, and he surprised me with his remarks. He said “You can grow round that problem, can’t you?” At the time I didn’t really understand what he meant, but now I think I do. A growth mindset comes from the belief that intelligence is not fixed, and that it can be developed. Just as a tree needs water and minerals to grow, so too does the human brain. Some people give up when a challenge comes along, but others persist. Their are those who quickly become successful, but their fear of failure holds them back. People often take negative feedback in a defensive way, when actually they should learn from this criticism. Growth mindsets result in a higher overall achievement, instead of reaching a career plateau.
Show me any successful person and not far away you will see their coach or mentor. We all need real-time feedback on our performance. We need to “coach the coaches”, and using technology there are positive ways to iteratively improve the quality of what we do. Having just purchased an Apple Watch I want to know how many calories I have burnt today, I want to speed up my communication and always be on time for meetings. The feedback from my Apple Watch will allow this and hopefully (fingers crossed) will not be another distraction in my busy life.
Another example of this would be teacher-annotated videos on teaching best-practices, which could be shared with the teaching community. Teachers would then be able to learn from their peer group and perhaps teachers in rural areas could tap into the expertise found with teaching communities in big cities.
Learning platforms aren’t just for students they can be used for teachers. A teacher CPD portal can connect educators with each other and to educational experts. They can help teachers reflect on their own practice and provide educators support to master new strategies. Being online these resources are available on-demand. Furthermore, content can be curated online so teachers can find appropriate support and ideas quickly.
The classroom hasn’t changed that much since Victorian times, and embracing new technology to create more value for teacher satisfaction and student experience has to be a no-brainer. As Bill Gates says, the big issue in Education is the quality of teaching, so any mechanism that empower teachers to learn from the best will only help improve the life chances and prosperity of our future generations.
Productivity in the economy is the ultimate goal, and we need to catch up with the French and Germans by investing more in research and development, the quality of management and indeed lifelong education, if we are to compete in a global marketplace. By the time the French and Germans have hit Thursday afternoon it takes Britain until Friday afternoon to catch up. Let’s skill-up our teachers to the next level. For teachers to have a growth mindset we need to look at new ways of developing and leveraging advances in technology, be it learning platforms or Apple Watches. The reason I got an Apple Watch was to improve my time management skills and to gain more real-time feedback. Feedback can sometimes hurt, but without it we will keep on doing what we have always done!