Education Insight| Developing Growth Mindsets Through Sport

One of the key messages that the PE department at Huili School Hangzhou is aiming to deliver is the importance of physical activity for every single person. It should not be something with which only elite athletes are concerned, but should instead be part of everyone’s daily lifestyle and routine. Physical activity should not be complicated, nor should it be a source of unwanted stress for a young person. I do hope, though, that all pupils can leave Huili School Hangzhou with the knowledge of how they can stay involved in physical activity and the benefits that it can bring to them in terms of how they feel and think.

Developing a mindset where effort and perseverance is rewarded more so than anything else is one of the key principles that we try to instill in the pupils at Huili School Hangzhou. Through physical activity, we aim to create an attitude of always trying and never giving up, even if there are obstacles preventing us from reaching our end goal. We would like our pupils to perceive setbacks as part of their learning from which they can grow stronger. Every single adult in the working world has been turned down at a job interview at least once, if not several times, throughout their lives. The individuals who succeed at their next interview, though, are those that ask for feedback and react positively to the teaching points that are given to them. My department will give regular feedback to all the pupils in our lessons to ensure they can develop this skill. We encourage the pupils to not see advice as at all critical, but as the best way for them to learn.

This is more important than ever in today’s climate. As there are so many different opportunities in the modern world, it is easier than ever to forget that failing is not a bad thing; it is failing to learn from failure, however, that can prevent our students from growing, and we must help them reflect on and learn from their setbacks. Those that are most reflective and able to constantly self-evaluate usually outperform those around them. They set high standards for themselves as they are always working towards a goal in all areas of their life.

We will do our best to produce as many accomplished sports men and women at Huili School Hangzhou, but we collectively think that it is more important to instill a growth mindset in our pupils. We believe that they develop this when they are out of their comfort zone. When young people find themselves in uncomfortable positions, it may not be a smooth journey from start to finish, but when they push through this period, they will grow stronger from the experience. It is here that they develop not only physically, but also mentally, harnessing the skills they can take with them into the working world. It is this same skill set that ensures they will stand out in a competitive environment where it counts the most.

It is for these reasons that we truly believe that sport at Huili School Hangzhou is for everyone at our school. We do cater to the most athletic pupils and ensure that they have the opportunity to compete at a competitive level, but we are also realistic and understand that this is neither the desired nor chosen path for all pupils at the school. It is our responsibility to make sure that every child gets the opportunity to take part in something that helps them develop. Sports Day is a great example of this: every single pupil is able to represent their house at some point during the day, and the experiences they gain from this give them the confidence needed to excel in their academic pursuits.

I truly believe that sport at Huili School Hangzhou can develop resilient pupils who are guided by their growth mindsets. They will experience some difficult situations and may fall, but they will all certainly grow stronger from picking themselves back up. It is the psychological growth that will always stay with the pupils at Huili School Hangzhou and ensure that they are successful later on in their lives.