Growth Mindsets and Positive Education

 Holy Family Catholic School has recognised that the pursuit of personal development and the belief that individual qualities and strengths can be cultivated through the strategic outputs and throughputs of Positive Education, and this has been touted as a hallmark of their students’ future successes.

Staff at Holy Family have found that focusing on a student’s potential to develop their intellectual capacity provides a host of motivational benefits. Rather than having a fixed identity, the students know “that talents can be developed and that great abilities are built over time. [They] believe that [their] qualities can be cultivated through [their] efforts” (Dweck, 2006).

Principal of Holy Family Catholic School, Kerry White said that the Holy Family mission is to foster a supportive learning environment that encourages students to constantly seek personal improvements. The principles of Positive Education are very well aligned with this philosophy.

“Positive Education helps to engender a growth mindset that is crucial in pushing our students to be the best they can be. It helps to promote a sense of openness, whereby students are encouraged to show positivity and motivation in helping each other perform at their fullest potential,” said Mr White.

The Holy Family Catholic School’s association with The Institute of Positive Education began in 2012. Having gathered an impression of what Positive Education is all about, the school was keen to find out how Positive Education could further strengthen a growth mindset amongst its students. 

A group of five teachers from the school attended a four-day Discovering Positive Education course conducted by the Institute of Positive Education in 2014 in Corio. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Staff who attended spoke enthusiastically about their learning and they were keen to introduce some of the key points to encourage a stronger learning culture around the school.

This encounter then lead to 22 of our of Holy Family’s staff, along with 90 other educators from other local schools take part in further Positive Education training held at Holy Family.

“Holy Family received great feedback from other schools that came to learn about how we, as a school were employing Positive Education. This was not only an affirmation from our peers that what we were doing as a school was right, but that we were also going the right way about it. In a continuation of our Positive Education journey, we are keen to continue to share our Positive Education knowledge with our peers. We have hosted a number of teacher network meetings with teachers from other schools to collaborate and continue to share how we are using Positive Education. It’s really a confluence of positivity from theoretical and practical directions,” he added.

“Since we started our Positive Education journey, we have implemented various programs, such as our ‘Grow Your Mind Day’, to help instill in our students and staff a growth mindset and to create an awareness among our learners of their character strengths,” said Mr White.

“These initiatives have proven to be very successful. There has been some amazing feedback from staff who have witnessed how Positive Education has helped improve our students’ communication skills. This has enabled our teachers to provide better feedback too, and inspire their students to continuously seek personal improvements.”

“Students are also becoming more open in offering words of encouragement to each other and are more articulate in terms of their understanding of how people can contribute positively to helping each other grow,” he added.

A Growth Mindset teaches students that anyone can increase their intelligence through effort by placing an emphasis on trying rather than only on succeeding. It also creates an environment where failure is simply a part of learning, not a poor reflection on the student as a person. People with a Growth Mindset believe that a person’s true potential is unknown and that it is impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil and training.  


Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset : the new psychology of success. New York: Random House.

December 2015