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Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right

Henry Ford

The current media climate defines educational success according to academic results. Rather than creating competition by being performance-focused, Saint Ignatius’ College champions an environment in which everyone is supported in their individual learning journey to achieve whatever is someone’s best efforts in their learning. Academic success is not cultivated in a culture of perfectionism. We advocate that schools should instead aspire to be laboratories of failure. Students learn best when they learn in a psychologically safe environment. Only when free of perfectionism can we stay curious and be truly open to growth. Rather than asking ‘How far do I have to go?’ (perfectly meeting the criteria of any given task or assignment), they might better ask of themselves, ‘How far can I go?’

Much of what we understand about the brain and how we learn is also changing at a breathtaking pace. Once people were previously thought to have fixed mindsets: that they had a ‘Maths mind’ or an ‘English mind’ as they were just wired that way. Neuroscience has since proven this is not the way the brain works. Neuroplasticity has the power to shape your learning. The fact is your brain changes every time you learn a new fact or skill. To support learning, the brain actively increases the chemical signalling taking place between neurons to assist short-term memory. Neuroscience has shown that this same increase in synapse activity occurs when people make mistakes, helping them facilitate new learning.

The famous quote from Henry Ford: ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right’, emphasises how much a person’s attitude determines success or failure. Carol Dweck’s research on growth mindsets compliments this understanding, emphasising the ‘not yet’ self-talk as opposed to ‘I can’t do it’. This is why at the Junior School our learning culture is infused with building specific learning assets that help to instil how students might best learn or learn to learn. There is an emphasis in our hidden and explicit curriculum on building student agency. Children need to develop their learning dispositions if they are to unlock their potential in an environment in which mistakes are valued as opportunities to build cognitive connections and deepen their understanding. In this way, knowing ‘who I am’ as a learner and ‘how I best learn’ are seen to support not just student learning, but human flourishing.

Nic Boys
Head of Junior School

Upcoming Dates - Junior School