Children with the fixed mindset want to make sure they succeed. Smart people should always succeed. But for children with the growth mindset, success is about stretching themselves. It’s about becoming smarter. 

Note: This column originally appeared in The Manila Times on August 20, 2019.

Simple things mean a lot. As in Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, the basics in life are taught in kindergarten but once we reach the upper years of formal education, we develop bad habits, such as the lack of ethics and discipline. A compromised ethical system leads to corruption, and lack of discipline covers from work to family and community, resulting in anarchy, such as traffic management and road use. As a nation, we are said to be happy, creative and resilient but never disciplined and ethical.

We were never non-learners but non-learners we have become. “Everyone is born with an intense drive to learn. Infants stretch their skills daily. Not just ordinary skills, but the most difficult tasks of a lifetime, like learning to walk and talk. They never decide it’s too hard or not worth the effort. Babies don’t worry about making mistakes or humiliating themselves. They walk, they fall, they get up. They just barge forward.” We had a growth mindset until we entered the educational system where it would seem we nurtured more and more a fixed mindset. Children with the fixed mindset want to make sure they succeed. Smart people should always succeed. But for children with the growth mindset, success is about stretching themselves. It’s about becoming smarter. And that should be learning, right?

The dictionary meaning of mindset is “a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations.” It is “an inclination or a habit.” In decision theory, mindset is “a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people.” A mindset can also be seen as “incident of a person’s world view (weltanschauung) or philosophy of life.”

A mindset may be so “firmly established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices, or tools. The latter phenomenon is also sometimes described as mental inertia, “groupthink,” and it is often difficult to counteract its effects upon analysis and decision-making processes.” In cognitive psychology, a mindset represents the cognitive processes activated in response to a given task.

People with “fixed mindset — those who believe that abilities are fixed–are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset — those who believe that abilities can be developed.” And that is the main stumbling block in Education 4.0. We do not produce the graduates needed by the economy because the skills set developed are pinned into an archaic curriculum. Funny, when we say weave technology courses, some academicians look at it as merely knowing how to operate a computer. When members of a faculty do not appreciate technology and insist that curricula are sacrosanct, then we will have a problem in education and the future generations of Filipinos. We will not be competitive with such a default mindset. With Industry 4.0, those who cannot adapt get trampled upon. That is why it has to begin with our higher education system.

Education 4.0 is the “future of education and learning that is a result of technology integration in the field and aims to make the students future ready. Education 4.0 makes use of tools and methodologies like blended learning and flipped classrooms, to impart not only knowledge, but develop skills through practical exposure and experiential learning. It emphasizes the need for preparing students for future projects, training and jobs through outside the classroom learning and incorporating field work- related aspects into the existing curriculum. Once academics appreciate reality, then we can embrace the here and now where “today’s world is the digital world and the generation is the digital generation. In this world of internet, nothing is impossible to learn — if you set your mind at something, you can learn it.” Google, in fact, is mightier than anyone in the formal education setting. The ability of determining what is true is the challenge in this era of misinformation and disinformation. That can be done effectively if educators have built critical minds and not fixed minds.

Local government colleges and universities are given the unique chance to be strategic in the manner of pursuing comparative advantage. Imagine if they were to do industry mapping and identify the drivers of the local economy, thus producing the needed graduates to sustain growth, then that would be building an ecosystem that ensures a viable future. Unfortunately, since these colleges and universities are packed with political appointees, the cutting edge is compromised by patronage, instability and unpredictability. The balancing act is further weighed down by the infusion of taxpayers’ money into tertiary education which would be an investment that should redound to competent graduates of the future and a workforce honed by cutting edge learning. Unfortunately, the blue ocean has not been pursued purposively.

Because of technology, limited physical facilities have become a thing of the past due to enterprise resource planning (ERP), or a modular software system designed to integrate the main functional areas of an organization’s business processes into a unified system. Then there is the Internet of Things that are able to transform the educational system into smart classes, eLearning, edX (online courses), MOOC (massive open online course), online examinations, big data and artificial intelligence (AI), among others. In this era of digitalization, it is time that the education system also become digital. Only then can we say we are ready for Industry 4.0 and the future is within our grasp. If we cannot appreciate the nuance, we will remain illiterate despite having achieved our diplomas. For as Alvin Toffler said, “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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