Plush brains reward for week of mindfullness

Mount St Joseph Year 7 students wait to role play how to transform from a ‘fixed mindset’ to a ‘growth mindset’.

A growth mindset was at the head of Mount St Joseph’s inaugural Brain Week.

The event included mental health and neuroscience-themed workshops from December 9, where students learnt how the brain acquires new skills. Students learnt to juggle and built Rube Goldberg machines, programmed to perform a simple task in a complicated way.

“The challenges allowed students to experience for themselves the ways their minds can expand when persisting with difficult tasks,” said Teaching and Learning Coordinator Jenny Symington.

“Students who exercised new parts of their brains were rewarded with even more brains – plush brains, brain ice-cube trays and squeezy stress-relief brains.”

Mount St Joseph teachers have adapted lessons throughout the year to encourage students to develop a belief in their own ability to change, something Stanford University professor Carol Dweck’s research calls a growth mindset.

The whole school participated in daily meditation breaks during Brain Week to draw attention to the importance of positive mental health. Parent workshops held English and Vietnamese also helped to build an understanding of a teen’s mindset.

Rio Olympian and past student Chloe Esposito also spoke to students at their annual presentation day. Chloe, who graduated from the school in 2009, won Australia’s first gold medal at modern pentathlon.

“Her speech worked really well to support our Brain Week message as she emphasised the fact that it was her own hard work and persistence, not natural talent, which put her ahead of other athletes in her field,” Ms Symington said.

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