Growth Mindset at Play

The Path of Creative Mastery #28

Candice Roberts
Dec 17, 2018 · 7 min read

I am passionate about creativity.

I have always identified as a very creative person and have found a “raison d’etre” in my pursuit of creative mastery.

The last two weeks has had me touring my original theatre show, IDEAS BOBERT at 22 different elementary schools, for over 6,000 children. I feel gratitude permeating through my entire being for this privilege to share my creativity with so many people.

As a personal practice, and to hone my confidence in being a professional artist, I have been dedicating at least 30 minutes each morning to researching creativity and creative learning.

Last week, the concept of “growth mindset” came up in my readings and I had an idea for a new “TYA” (Theatre for Young Audience show).

In collaboration with theatre extraordinaire: Nayana Fielkov, we intend to research and create a tour-able, immersive theatre for young audience (TYA) experience that not only explores the concepts of growth mindset, everyday creativity and the art and science of failure, but also: what we can DO to promote these mindsets.

Growth mindset: the understanding that abilities and intelligence can be developed.

Fixed mindset: the belief that basic abilities, intelligence and talents, are just fixed traits.

These are terms coined by Dr. Carol Dweck used to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence.

This chart is helpful in understanding the traits of these two mindsets:

I am fascinated by neuroscientific research that is finding, that students (of any age) who learn the difference between growth mindset and fixed mindset are more likely to persist through challenges when they understand that intelligence is malleable, rather than a fixed trait.

Students are more likely to put in extra time when they believe that they can get smarter and that effort makes them stronger. This ultimately leads to higher achievements.

Research on brain plasticity has shown how connectivity between neurons can change with experience.

“With practice, neural networks grow new connections, strengthen existing ones, and build insulation that speeds transmission of impulses. These neuroscientific discoveries have shown us that we can increase our neural growth by the actions we take, such as using good strategies, asking questions, practicing, and following good nutrition and sleep habits.”- https://www.mindsetworks.com/science/

WE CAN GROW OUR BRAIN BY MAKING MISTAKES!

At this point Nayana and I are developing different streams of creative research for this theatre piece.

  1. An 8 session residency for me to work with the grade four/five classes at Nootka Elementary in Vancouver, BC where we will explore the concepts of growth mindset (the power of believing you can), creativity and “failure” through drama games, shadow puppetry and creative writing.
  2. A week long “Spring Break Creative Kid’s Camp for ages 6–10(ish)” facilitated by Nayana and I where we will explore these concepts through physical theatre, craft-ivity and shadow puppetry which culminates in a theatre performance on the last day.
  3. Researching Children’s Books on mindset to use as inspiration and departure points for classroom exploration and discovery. Here is a great list: https://blog.reallygoodstuff.com/10-childrens-books-for-teaching-growth-mindset/
  4. On-line research, reading books and writing. There are mass amounts of research articles dedicated to this subject:

What ELSE?

Inspiration follows action. As ideas begin to flow, other streams of creative research will emerge. We have ideas of asking for mentorship from expert artists that we admire for support, consultation and direction in the realm of contemporary dance, magic and working with children.

We also have ideas in the works for a creative residency at the Lookout Arts Quarry in Bellingham, WA.

The resulting theatre piece has many options in which it could play out and I’m not going to give away all of my ideas here.

All of this creative research and source work will be fed into the creation of a piece that will be presented in a workshop style performance at Nootka Elementary. The showing will include a talkback opportunity for the students to offer their critical thoughts and creative ideas inspired by what they experienced.

We will document the presentation and use it in an application for the ARTSTARTS showcase of 2020. The intention of performing at this showcase is to develop a BC province wide tour of elementary schools for 2021.

We believe in the four P’s of creative learning that this project will contribute to mastering our artistic skills.

Project: This is a project that not only creates a platform of dedicated time and space for artistic development in all of our modalities (physical theatre, music, contemporary dance, tap dance, puppetry, children’s entertainment) but also holds an opportunity to have these artistic skills intertwine to tell a story of science and discovery.

Nayana and I have both had the privilege of touring extensively through the BC school system with our individual projects: IDEAS BOBERT, HABITATS and the MYRTLE SISTERS. These projects were not specifically “made” as TYA but we have discovered a knack, and a love for creating an engaging interactive space of entertainment and education with young folks.

Nayana and Isabelle Kieroac in HABITATS

We would like to take what we have learned from these experiences and lean into this skill set to intentionally design a theatre piece specifically created with young audiences in mind.

Passion: We ourselves are passionate about creative learning, creative thinking and our abilities to grow and become smarter through strategy, effort and perseverance.

Growth mindset and creative confidence is key to what makes life worth living. We desire to share that life as a creative thinker can bring joy, fulfillment, purpose, meaning as well as economic rewards.

The world favours people who appreciate challenges, are innovative and know how to creatively approach today’s conundrums.

We are passionate about contributing to a world of learners, risk-takers, doers and makers of things.

We are also passionate about our personal sources of creative expression; singing, dancing and making art.

Peers: As founders and collaborators in the Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret Society as well as The Myrtle Family Band, Nayana and I have been working together for over 10 years.

We have learned that our self awareness of strengths and weakness can work in harmony to bounce and build upon our ideas. We know our abilities for structure, form and flexibility of flow. We recognize our power of creative collaboration.

This project also creates a clear strategy to work with our some of our own admired creative mentors and peers.

Also, the project itself reflects the power of working together.

Play: Play is an attitude. It is a way of engaging with our artistic modalities as well as with the world. Through a balance of planning and play we can experiment, take risks, and test our boundaries.

How can we use familiar materials in unfamiliar ways? How can we can take advantage of the unexpected, not as failure, but as opportunities?

We ourselves must operate from the growth mindset in our own creative process in order to share this valuable approach with our audience.

How can this project support the types of play that lead us forward in this project, as well as our audience to develop as creative thinkers?

This is my weekly process blog. A place to organize and share what I have been learning and working on.

I am currently writing a grant with the Canada Council of the Arts in hopes of receiving financial support for this project. This last week has been dedicated to contemplating and clarifying the ideas.

As always, I love and appreciate your questions, comments and feedback. My gramma and spilling ain’t always the goodest, but done is better than perfect as far as I am concerned. ;)

What are you sparky for? What gets you excited about getting out of bed? Do you want more creativity in your life? I can help! Send me a line at candybonestheatre@gmail.com.

Candice Roberts

Written by

Comedy Artist and Creativity Coach from unceded Coast Salish Territories, Vancouver, BC Canada. www.candice-roberts.com

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