An Educational Journey into the Growth Mindset

 Open Education 2030 – Contribution to the JRC-IPTS – Call for Vision Papers

Part III: Higher Education

June 2013


The views collected in this document are purely those of the authors and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official or in-official position of the European Commission. None of the contributions has been revised, reviewed, modified, shortened, expanded or otherwise altered or quality controlled in any way by staff of the European Commission. The content of the articles is owned by the authors who grant copyright as they deem fit.

An Educational Journey into the Growth Mindset

Fabienne Goux-Baudiment

Forging a new global, humanist and comprehensive ‘growth mindset’ can only be done by machines, networks and very high-level human beings.[1]


I am a European twixter 20-year-old. And a new life is beginning for me. The third one! Wahoo, it’s really thrilling! Ok, first things first.

1.      First decade: primary education

The 1st life I went through was my childhood; let’s say the first 10 years of my life. During this time, a major part of my education was the fruit of my parents’ community (my biological parents which do not leave together any longer; my added-parents, who are the new partners of my biological ones; my grand-parents —biological and added—, and all the collaterals (uncles, aunts, siblings, both biological and added). That’s a quite large community of story-tellers, full of meaningful personal and professional stories. They spent a lot of time storytelling me so much information that, once knitted together, have progressively built my worldview.


During this time, school was just a place where I used to go, during my family work time, with no constraint of presence, just to sit with other children. There, I could do whatever I wanted: play with my mates or alone or online with distant friends; enjoy music and movies; play sports and act and dance; learn the compulsory basics (reading, writing, clicking, counting, netsurfing) and ethics (as a human being, as a citizen, as an internaut, as a friend) either with the teacher or with my tablet.

Most of the time then I used this device because online teaching was more adapted to my own pace of learning. Also because I got more fun working with software specially designed for young children. I was not afraid that my answer could be wrong: my classmates would not know my failure and laugh at me, and the device would not scold me.


So, well, during this first decade, I just learned to be a human being, a very happy one, far from old school’s constraints and punishments. Both people and machines became my friends and I trusted them. When this period ended, my worldview was quite open and tolerant, smoothed by love displayed by my surrounding community, as they were no longer concerned with homework and marks and all these bothering things from the old fashion school system, which contributed so much to ruin relationship between children and parents. Moreover, this worldview of mine (and of all my classmates) was closer to the real world than the one of any other generation before, because it has been nurtured by taletellers who were real players of their stories, and not by teachers who sometimes did not have a clue what they were talking about.

2.      Second decade: secondary education

I shall say that the second decade was not funny in the same way. This time I had to really work to reach the schooling goals, to work on my environment but above all on myself. Collaboration, self-organization, responsibility, smart use of freedom were at the core of our implicit learning, through collaborative activities —physical or online— such as sports, games, contests and any form of educational entertainment. This was the first major goal of this decade: being a human being living with other human beings, during a time of peace. This might sound a fairy-tale-like thing to say. Yet, as soon as 2020, most of the world begun to understand that further economic and social developments could only be fostered by a huge reengineering aiming to implement a radical change: moving from a war-driven to a peace-driven humanity; EU was the first to understand, in line with the principles that gave it life. This is the reason why, especially during the first mid-decade, our schooling programme was to shape ourselves to leave in a peace-driven world. Transparency, empowerment, tolerance, responsible freedom, self-awareness, ethics, critical mind, ability to discern were key skills to learn and experiment, whatever the medium. This learning was mainly conducted through activities (action-learning).


However, progressively, year after year, we have had some more formal teaching, I mean academic teaching. For the second major goal of this decade was: being able to understand human being’s environment. From then on, we had to get a glimpse of all formal fields of knowledge, from hard science to social and human science to the science of organisations and decision-making. Every student was given the same education, with no specialties, until the age of 20. Through this decade, we made our way from the observable world to the invisible mechanisms of human activities, from the sciences of the nature to the sciences of the human being and its societies.


Our job was not to learn contents but to understand what the pieces of the puzzle were and how this one had been formed —and was still. For example, we had not to learn the details of history (facts and dates that can easily be found in databases) but to understand the mechanisms of macro-history, the science of change and transformation of the human societies, and to « read » the history of each nation, all over the world, through theses specific glasses. Not to compare them in order to say what is the best, but to comprehend the deep link between culture and transformation and between accident (the right man at the right place on the right time) and causality.

3.      Schooling Organisation

Since 2015, the school calendar has been fixed on the calendar year, such that every new year begins on January 2 and ends on December 30. Thus the school year is now divided into four quarters. Each quarter includes a personal learning time, a collaborative project, a collective evaluation time and a rest period, usually some free days (up to one week) after four weeks of work. The teacher is first and foremost a pedagogue, then a coach. The first day of a course, he provides the necessary basics to set up the scene and ignite our curiosity: why is the topic important, what are the impacts and implications, what are the issues and stakes. Then it is up to us, students, after personal and extensive research, to identify the system, submit and justify appropriate definitions, discuss the limits and share the results with our classmates, under the guidance of our teacher. Doing this, we collectively build our knowledge while learning to listen critically to others. That’s a nice way to dialog, reflect and be the player of our own teaching. And later in the decade, when we know enough of another language, we also enjoy exchanging in foreign language and look together for the right word for the right thing. When we do so, we are allowed to invite a native-speaking student of this language to join virtually our group.


Even evaluation has become quite enjoyable. There are two types of them: a human one and a « machine » one. In addition to the individual assessment made by the teacher as the student’s coach, there is a collective assessment —also made by the teacher— where each student is only considered as a part of his/her group (a four-people group) such as all the members of a group get the same appreciation. Appraisal —almost daily— is also made by the « machine », I mean, not only through digital activities like computer-assisted lessons, all sorts of online edutainment (videogames, contests, simulations) and open learning, but also by a digital coach, the Preceptor. He/she is a sort of AI[2], built to be a friendly mentor continuously helping, advising and assessing the student, any day and time, all along his/her life, since the very first day of schooling until death.


As an individual coach, the teacher follows each student very closely, not to sanction us but to develop the most appropriate help for each of us. He advises one to spend more time in collective dialogs, that one insist on such part of the course through OEDRAP[3], another go more often to the library. He knows every student’s best way to learn, according to his/her type of memory and intelligence, personal surroundings and inclinations and innate skills. Every teacher follows a class for five years, which gives him enough time to understand every student. It is also a great way to develop teachers’ own skills:  they achieve a full cycle of knowledge then —after two to five years spent in the private sector— they can  start again from the beginning to the end, understanding thus what skills and knowledge will be necessary for students at specific steps of the cycle. For, henceforth, education has moved from mass-education to person-education, which has been made possible thanks to the above described reengineering. During a cycle (five years), a teacher follows three (primary school) to six (end of secondary school) groups of twelve students. In this new economic model, fewer teachers are needed; they are highly educated, significantly more competent and better paid; they benefit from the same employment contract than employees of the private sector since the adoption of the civil calendar and the end of the two-month long summer holidays. The basic teacher —reading the handbook, dictating the course, correcting exams— has been replaced by powerful algorithms for open-learning systems, allowing the human teacher to become what it should have never cease to be : a mentor, a coach, a pedagogue. He/she is perfectly aware of the huge responsibility he/she has assumed in forging new minds and mindsets.

4.      Third decade: tertiary education

I just age 20. The last year has been dedicated to reflection upon our achievements during our two decades long life; achievements in terms both of knowledge and personality. It is time to consciously identify then intertwine them. Who am I? What do I know about the world? How can I contribute to the development of Humanity?  It has been a very challenging time, full of long-term perspectives and interrogations, enlightened by philosophy, psychology, sociology, evolutionary anthropology and big history. I understand now the structural lines of transformation of the human being and the human societies it produces. I can ‘see’ my worldview although it is still a difficult exercise to spot my areas of blindness and the ‘holes’ in my comprehensive vision. But today I feel equipped to face the world. The coming decade is that of my preparation to enter the real life, as a pre-adult, what we now call a ‘twixter’ (within the segment between adolescence and adulthood)[4]. This is how it will happen.

During the first cycle I will move around the world in my quest for a specific track to follow, a job, a research or a process that really fits me. I can spend these five years in the way I wish, as far as I follow the master process: 1/ looking around to identify what excites me and pushes me to work with or around it; 2/ preparing a discovery trip in at least three different countries of the world; 3/travelling and building a comparative analysis of my experiments.


During this period, I will benefit from three different ‘helpers’: my Preceptor —my dedicated AI—, my Mentor —a tertiary teacher, responsible for this cycle and who will introduce me to other Mentors, either academic or business, in different parts of the world—, my Virtual Class (VC). My VC is a group of students, bringing together at least one person from each major cultural area of the world (North America, South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Arabic World, EU, Central Asia, Indo-pacific Basin, East Asia, Islanders…), speaking the same vehicular language, linked by the same interests or passions. We have a one-day virtual meeting every two week and meanwhile we mobile-connect very often. At least one Mentor joins every meeting, according to our agenda. We will talk about our reflections and discoveries, providing thus a continuous flow of narratives from experiences and new knowledge; we ask and give advices, introductions and opportunities, building thus a mix between superficial social networks and the former fraternal social organizations for undergraduate students. You really need this community (personal learning network) to gather world-distributed knowledge about real- life and things, to secure your own knowledge (learning by teaching) and to get a friendly support when you work alone or during apprenticeship periods (collaborative intelligent filtering).


Beyond these reflective human (or almost) tools, acquisition of knowledge during the first cycle will still be the same than during my last decade of learning: I will search for information, cross-check it, look for relationship with other information and try to understand the interlinking mechanism between all these variables, that will reveal their in-depth meaning, which I will share with my virtual classmates. My digital literacies have already prepared me to become a digital resident, which I pretty am thanks to the wearable technology (all-in-one computing glasses, etc.) and the tangible computing that allows me to access the Noosphere (ex-Cloud) from almost everywhere (a welcome output of the old BYOD and CYOD[5]!). My Preceptor continuously and silently follows my progress, check my understanding through mobile game-based tests, organise my learning process according to my own evolution (personality, maturity, interests, skills) and develop my multiple intelligences. When I nurture a disliking of some field of knowledge, it even provides me with more suitable ways to come across.

The main differences between this cycle and the previous lie in the following items. My VLE[6] will change from the collective platform used by my class to a personal one, just designed for me, according to the results of my previous schooling (learning analytics[7]). My learning process will be more social than it was before, but above all it will become global —the world is now my playground— and personal. I will spend a third of my time as an apprentice in as many fields as I feel I can commit myself, observing and serving, testing reality against my preconceive visions. I feel a tingle of proudness when I think that this learning system is inherited from the French Compagnonnage dating from the Middle Ages: despite the post-modern world I am living in, shaken by disruptive technology, some roots are still there to link us to our historical past, not as a chain but as a hand through the ages[8]. My Mentor will


At the end of this cycle —even before if I success to prove my conviction— I will have discovered how I can contribute to the world development and Humanity improvement. Then I will be ready for the last stage of my Educational Journey, the last five years.

I will be 25 and mature enough to face a thorough training. My learning time, from then on, will be dedicated to the future.

Whatever the field chosen, my learning process will be characterised by the connection of my personal VLE to the OEDRAP available in the world concerning my field (open learning at the world scale). I will first acquire an intensive knowledge of the basics of the field. Then I will stand back by conducting comparative studies about contents and practices of the field. 3D-simulations, serious games, augmented reality and gestural computing will all contribute to simulate case studies I will have to deal with (problem-solving, decision-making, disruptive creativity, ethical challenges). After three years of such a training and 6 months of real practice as a temporary worker, I will have 18 months to ‘build my masterpiece’, that is to say to demonstrate my accurate understanding of the field and the mission I am prepared to fulfil, and contribute to advancing the field, through an innovative project or a product creation or a research…


Although this will be a very busy period of personal working, I will continue to develop my social skills by creating my own community, a personal network of friends and colleagues and mentors. Doing so, I will learn to interact with the world by myself, out of the comfortable cocoon of the ‘class’. This will be the last step of my learning in this matter: rhizonomy[9].


By then I will be 30 years old and ready to fully become an adult. I will not be afraid by this 4th new life: my Preceptor will continue all along my life span to monitor my evolution and suggest me new ways, processes, contents to improve myself, my personality and my skills. And my community will evolve with me on a rhizomic basis.


I do not fear the future. I am a person now, a sentient and sapiens person, and I deeply feel I am part of the world, a world where humans and machines are friends.


I might even become a Mentor and revolutionize pedagogy initiating the Learning 4.0. 😉





[1] Most mentioned concepts and technologies can be checked in the following sources: Dweck, Carol (2006), Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House; Waters, Mick (2013), Thinking Allowed on Schooling: One Man’s Overhaul of the British School System. Independent Thinking Press; Wheeler, Steve, ed. (2008), Connected Minds, Emerging Cultures: Cybercultures in Online Learning. Information Age Publishing; and his talk in Doha, April 16, 2013 about Learning Futures; talks by Graham Brown-Martin, from Learning without Frontiers.

[2] Artificial Intelligence

[3] Open EDucational Resources And Practices

[4] The American word ‘Twixter’ describes the same phenomenon than the Japanese ‘parasite single’ (parasaito shinguru) and the French ‘adulescent’ (coined by Tony ANATRELLA).

[5] Bring your Own Device and Choose Your Own Device

[6] Virtual Learning Environment

[7] Use of intelligent data, learner-produced data, and analysis models to discover information and social connections for predicting and advising people’s learning.

[8] French motto of the Compagnons: « Servir sans s’asservir ni se servir » (To serve, without becoming neither a slave nor a scrounger).

[9] « The rhizonomic organisation of content will emerge from chaotic, multi-dimensional and multi-nodal organisation of content, giving rise to an infinite number of possibilities and choices for learners. As learners choose their own self determined routes through the content, so context will change and new nodes and connections will be created in what will become a massive, dynamic, synthetic ‘hive mind' ». Steve WHEELER’s blogpost: Next Generation Learning.

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