The Power of Believing that You Can Improve

As I was retiring from my position as a program specialist for arts integration, our team was doing professional development on the topic of growth mindset. Classroom practice was focusing on this concept for student learning and assessment of learning. Today, I find myself again appreciating the role of growth mindset as I teach adults and they learn new skills.

This past year I started to teach drawing and painting to adults through community education in drawing, painting, and collage. I hope my students are having as much fun as I am. However, mentoring and supporting adults to develop growth mindset as they begin to draw or paint is so important for learning. The adult students are challenged when they learn a new technique. They can find it hard and/or frustrating when they do not get the results they were hoping for. We have all experienced these emotions when learning a new skill so we can empathize. 

People with a growth mindset interpret effort, difficulty and even errors as a sign that they are improving, not a sign that they should give up. Science backs this up. Every time we work outside of our comfort zone, making a big effort and finding things difficult, the neurons in our brain build better connections and our skills and abilities develop and improve.


So,  in working with adults or children/young adults it is important to focus on the process, not the end result. When working in an art form we should all praise ourselves for the effort and perseverance we show as wells as on any improvements, even when they seem really small!

For those of you who’d like to learn more, here’s a 10 minute TED talk from Carol Dweck on the subject.  Carol S. Dweck is a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Dweck is known for her work on the mindset psychological trait.

Thanks for reading!


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