As I've written earlier I've recently read Carol Dweck's "Mindsets: The New Psychology of Success" and was struck with the implications it has on education. In particular I began to reflect on the growth mindset and the opportunity to play.
Play is the integral learning of children. It is both enjoyable and frustrating. It is fun yet difficult. Play defines how children learn to process their selves, their emotions, their world. It is through play that children learn to negotiate among other people, to solve problems, to persist. When Dweck talks about the growth mindset she talks about people who believe that through effort they can change their intellect, abilities, and skills and that within the growth mindset there is the thought of learning and creating. What she is describing are all attributes that are developed through high quality play. Through spontaneous play and play that occurs in quality learning environments children are teaching themselves and each other how to have a growth mindset.
Through play children are learning what it means to take turns, how to deal with both winning and losing in a manner in which they still feel good about themselves, and how to ask for help.
Through play children are learning how to cooperate, how to help each other, how to try something new.
Through play children are learning the courage to investigate something new, to dig a little deeper when they don't understand.
Through play children are learning to take a chance, how to let their curiosity lead them to new learning.
Through play children are able to feel safe in creating and looking at objects in a new way.
Through play children learn that they can keep trying if they fail the first time.
Through play children are creating a growth mindset. Let's defend the children's right to play and with it their right to grow their mindset so that we are teaching a generation of people who are free to take risks and challenges, who are excited to learn and create, who know that if they fail it is only the start of a process not the definition of who they are.