"I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it." Pablo Picasso
What is "Growth Mindset?" This is an idea originally developed by Dr. Carol Dweck, based on the fact that our abilities and intelligence levels are not "fixed;" they can grow and improve with time and effort. When a student gives up in frustration, crumpling up the paper, they are suffering from a "Fixed Mindset" - they really believe that they simply can't draw. However, if we understand that our attitude and work habits determine success rather than our current abilities, achievement can soar! Purposefully teaching Growth vs. Fixed Mindset can help any student from age 5 - 105. Also, it helps when the teacher demonstrates how to turn a mistake into something beautiful. You don't have to start over every time you mess up! For more information, check out this article: "Dr. Dweck’s discovery of fixed and growth mindsets have shaped our understanding of learning."


Art projects that help students realize they "can" do art: 
non-objective middle school marker designs based on line types

  • Non-objective style pieces such as Piet Mondrian designs, scribble designs, or Jackson Pollack action painting 
  • Sculpture based on design, not drawing skills; kids love to build with their hands! 
  • Playing games such as "Exquisite Corpse," where students collaborate to make something that is funny, not serious at all
  • Pure design assignments such as quilts, African textile designs, etc.
  • Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain exercises such as drawing upside down or blind contour drawing
  • Have students do a pre-instruction drawing before tackling any kind of realistic style assignment (portraits, figure drawing, landscape painting, etc.). They can compare their pre-instruction drawings to the final piece and see growth! The final piece will not be "perfect," but it will be a whole lot better than the pre-instruction piece!

Essential Steps To Turn Art I Students Into Artists, article by Matt Christenson, theartofed.com

Room To Grow, by Anna Nichols, practicing Growth Mindset in middle school through critique

Erik Wahl: The Art of Breakthrough Thinking

The Power of Belief - Mindset and Success, Eduardo Briceno,  TED Talk, Youtube, recommended for high school or middle school

                                                              Embrace the Shake, Phil Hansen, TED Talk, Youtube


Craftsmanship takes time, patience, and effort and is part of what goes into making our artwork look great. However, all the little imperfections are what give the piece character and make it interesting! There is no such thing as perfection in art; to err is human. 
Making Art Fun For a Perfectionist Kid, arthistorykids.com, article by Lotus Stewart

Class Dojo Growth Mindset Episode 1: A Secret About the Brain, Youtube (to view all 5 videos of this excellent animated series, click on this link)

Regina's Mistake; Reading Rainbow, Youtube (features a reading of the children's book as well as interviews with 3 artists)


What Do You Do With a Problem?, by Kobi Yamada, children's book read aloud by Susan Burke, YouTube

Beautiful Oops, by Barney Saltzberg, children's book, (for middle/upper elementary.. faster pace narration)  Beautiful Oops, by Barny Saltzberg, for PK-1st, much slower pace)

The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds, children's book, (narrated by American man, slow) The Dot, (narrated by English woman, more animated)

Ish, by Peter H. Reynolds, children's book

Zootopia, Try Everything (Shakira), Youtube


               Salt in His Shoes; children's book about Michael Jordan as a boy, by Deloris Jordan, Youtube

               The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, by Mark Pett, Youtube

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