Fixed v. Growth Mindset in the Art Room

So, as I noted when I started writing for AOE, I might be using this blog space as my playground–hashing out ideas, trying things out with my writing, setting up some first drafts so I can see them in ‘print’–and maybe even receive some feedback. This is one of those posts.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been bombarded over the past couple of years with information about the fixed v. growth mindset. This is a theory that comes from Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford, that has been spreading through educational circles like wildfire. Those with a fixed mindset believe that your intelligence is fixed and cannot be changed. Those with a growth mindset believe the opposite; they believe your intelligence is innate and cannot be improved. You can find a great overview here.

My question, though: what does a growth mindset look like from the perspective of an art teacher? Let’s consider artmaking a type of intelligence; how do we get kids out of the fixed mindset when it comes to their artmaking? So many kids tell me “I don’t want to sign up for art–I can’t draw!” Every time, my response is “I will TEACH you to draw.” Yes, some kids have more inherent talent. That doesn’t mean other kids will never catch up. Learning to draw (or sculpt, or paint, or throw on the wheel) is about practice. And more practice. And more practice. The more you work, the better you become. If you can get your kids into the growth mindset, you can get them to realize that work equals success. They will work, and they will become successful.

How do you get those kids into that growth mindset, if they aren’t there already? How do we shift them out of the fixed mindset so they can reach that level of achievement? What will this look like in our classroom?

Leave a comment


  1. Anonymous

     /  October 7, 2014

    One thing I like to do is put up “before” and “after” work from time to time. This lets the general student body see the degree of improvement that students can make (pretty quickly, too). I find my best recruiters are the students who have experienced big leaps in ability. They talk up the art experience in a way that I just can’t as a teacher.

  2. this is all we’ve been talking about this year in art and our school – cool!

  3. I’m also researching what a growth mindset looks like in the art classroom specifically. I’m finding very few resources online. Have you found anything worth reading?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: