Promoting Growth Mindset in Middle School Woodworking Class: An Elementary Teacher's Journey from the Classroom to the Wood Shop

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Proulx, Jason
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Woodworking in middle schools today owes a great debt to the work of Salomon who developed Educational Sloyd in Sweden at the turn of the 20th century. The aims were less about promoting manual training with tools and more about promoting the development of an appreciation for hard work, perseverance, and problem solving in school children. This forms the backdrop for my research and is further informed by Dewey's view that children should be actively engaged in the process of learning in a hands-on manner. In addition, Vygotsky's theory that education is a social process where students are guided by more advanced peers to their learning allows one to see that woodworking is the ideal class to apply these concepts. By challenging students with difficult yet engaging projects, woodworking allows them to exercise their agency where they are able to develop what Bandura refers to as their self-efficacy. Combining these notions together with Dweck's concept of growth mindset, where it is argued that one's abilities can be improved through hard work, persistent effort and asking for help when they are stuck, students can develop a growth mindset. Creating a middle school woodworking program that infuses a growth mindset approach into all areas of the curriculum allows students to learn in a supportive environment that promotes self-reflection and encourages learners to develop a positive mindset. As students learn to woodwork, they strengthen their belief that they can gain the necessary skills and abilities needed to successfully create the artifacts in class. In providing challenging projects for the students to work on, it affords them the opportunity to work hard, persevere in the face of adversity and learn to problem solve. This allows students to develop a growth mindset and view learning as an ongoing iterative process where setbacks are seen as normal and necessary course of action.
growth mindset , hands-on learning , self-efficacy , grit , perseverance , sloyd education , project based learning , middle school woodworking , positive mindset , junior high school woodworking
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