How Coding Helps Kids Develop a Growth Mindset

What is a Growth Mindset?

People with a growth mindset look for ways to learn, grow, and improve themselves. They thrive on challenges and feedback. They base their sense of value and worth in the learning process and are thrilled when they can feel themselves changing.  

People with a fixed mindset look for ways to defend their value and worth. Challenges and feedback are threats to their worth. They are happy when nothing questions their abilities, which ends up stunting their growth.

In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck describes how people with a growth mindset find much more success and peace of mind in their lives  Life is full of challenges and everyone will run into problems. Those with a fixed mindset tend wrestle emotionally with life challenges than those with a growth mindset. One person sees a bad review on their brownies as a personal insult, while the other sees it as a chance to tweak the recipe for the better.  

Let’s examine a few more ways that a fixed mindset is different from a growth mindset.

Fixed Mindset

People with a fixed mindset believe their intelligence is fixed and static.

Growth Mindset

People with a growth mindset believe their intelligence and talents can be improved through effort and learning.

What happens when they run into a challenge or receive feedback?

Fixed Mindset

Get upset if they have a hard time with the challenge because that means they are not smart/good enough. Feedback is a threat to their value.

Growth Mindset

See the challenge as an opportunity to learn. They take feedback and use it to improve. They see challenges and feedback as steps in the process of becoming better.

Where do they base their sense of value?

Fixed Mindset

Base their value in accomplishments or their current abilities. When these fall short, their value is threatened.

Growth Mindset

Base their value in growing their abilities and reaching for a better way. When their current abilities or performances fall short, their value is strengthened.  

Kids from an early age can start to develop a growth mindset. Learning to code in particular helps students practice a healthy growth mindset.

How does coding help students build a growth mindset?

The process of coding is a particularly effective way to help develop a growth mindset. Coding naturally involves trying something out, seeing what it does, tweaking what you did, and trying again. For each step of the code, we try it again and again until it looks just right. Entering a piece of code and seeing a response you weren’t expecting is very much a part of the every day process.

Because coding involves so much trial and error, students quickly become used to feedback. They become well practiced at quickly applying the feedback, improving their project, and moving on. Feedback, change, and growth are all naturally part of the everyday process of getting a piece of code to work.

Often, students naturally become curious about code. They start to question, “Well, what happens if I do this?” Or they think, “If this works, what happens if I add this?”  They will naturally try out new things just to see what happens. They become more interested in possibilities and push their own possibilities. The fear of failure is often simply forgotten in their excitement.

Teachers can Demonstrate a Growth Mindset

The entire field of computer science is young. We are all learning new things about computers every day and computer languages update constantly. Often, in a computer science classroom, the teacher has opportunities to demonstrate a growth mindset as they run into new ways of coding right in the middle of their teaching.  Often students know or discover a different way to get to the same answer and a teacher can also learn on the spot. A coding classroom is full of opportunities for change, growth, and learning.

Learning to Code Helps Kids in Many Ways

We commonly recognize the more obvious benefits for learning to code. It builds a marketable skill that looks good on a resume, it helps kids learn critical problem solving, it verses them in a machine they use every day.  Learning to code also helps kids emotionally as they exercise their ability to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow. Developing a growth mindset is important to build resilient and adaptable kids. One of the most effective routes to a growth mindset is to practice coding.

If you’d like to learn more about customizing a computer science pathway for your classrooms, schedule a consultation with Skill Struck today. 

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