Guy Claxton

Today I am at Teaching for Intelligent Mindsets where we will hear from Carol Dweck, Guy Claxton and Jamie Fitzgerald. I will try to post blogs about each session so my next few posts will be far more bullet points rather than a flowing post of any sort (if any of my rambles ever achieve a flow!?).

This is my post on the talk by Guy Claxton.

Fixed Mindset is the biggest handbrake on intelligence

Old views of intelligence: fixed sized pot to be filled. Decided at birth, doesn’t get bigger, sets a ceiling on what you can achieve, is easily diagnosed by a test and based on a rational mind. This is the model of intelligence upon which schools were founded. It set up a hierarchy of subjects and allowed teachers to make judgements about students being intelligent, average etc. Contemporary research by Dweck and others has blown apart this preconception of fixed intelligence.

New View

Intelligence is:

  • composite,
  • attitudinal,
  • physical,
  • distributed,
  • social,
  • expandable

Along with an image of his book with Bill Lucas: New Kinds of Smart.


Intelligence is the sum total of your habits of mind. Prof Lauren Resnick. Cognitive combo of attention, investigation, imitation, imagination, experimentation, reasoning, reviewing. How well do these play together – like a Jazz combo. Mindfulness is a big part of this and recent moves by schools to focus on this is a great thing.


Mindsets can powerfully impact on intelligence. Accelerators are growth mindset, tolerance for uncertainty, fair-mindedness, empathy, craftsmanship. Brakes on intelligence are fixed mindset, intolerance for uncertainty, my-side bias, egocentricity, approval.

Canadian research found high IQ may result in people developing more sophisticated versions of my-side bias. Creativity emerges from having a go, reflection, having another go. Just like Austin’s Butterfly. My thoughts – Also shows strength of approaches such as Design Thinking and Maker Ed?


Image of Guy’s next book out soon: Intelligence in the Flesh.

Creativity often begins through gesture. Links between cognitive performance and physical actions/expressions. People who are more accurate at judging their own heart beat are better at certain types of decision making. Skin conductivity changes as you grapple with a difficult thinking challenge. Power of thinkering and sketching.


We make the world smart so we don’t have to be. Andy Clark

Person plus the smart tools we make are what creates intelligence. Deep in our genetic make up to design smart tools. Our distributed network of intelligence.


2 heads better than one, communities of practice, social and digital learning. Personal Learning Networks. Real links here to Austin Kleon’s idea of Scenius rather than the myth of the lone genius.


We can teach in a way that builds and broadens habits of mind/dispositions etc. Fixed mindsets work against this. The joy of the struggle. Links here with section of Willingham “Why don’t students like school?” the pleasure rush from solving a problem. Importance of language for this – “could language” rather than “is language”. Using prompts like Empathy Glasses to help students stretch their empathy muscles as well as mental capacities.

Final Comments

Intelligence is much more multi-faceted than we have believed throughout the past. It is not fixed and we can build agility, mindsets, learning power as well as our knowledge.

My final reflection on this talk is that it would have been great to have heard more about how these work together with knowledge building. It is far too easy for opponents of dispositional education to block it with assessment demands etc. More of the ideas like in Key Competencies for the Future that showed how knowledge and dispositions work together would be helpful for teachers and definitely for students!



6 thoughts on “Guy Claxton

  1. Thanks for blogging this. I got to meet with Guy Claxton back when I was a beginning teacher. Some of the best PD I ever received.

  2. Hi Steve, I too was at the conference yesterday and was motivated by all three of our speakers. I was fascinated by the clip Guy showed us from the Langsdale students on their learning. By any chance did you record a link to it? I think showing this to our staff will generate some powerful discussion. Your notes are full and comprehensive – a great resource for anybody who was unable to attend!

      • I’ll keep looking and prodding around and if I manage to get my hands on it I’ll send it through to you :0)

  3. Pingback: A chance to explore my own growth mindset – e-Odyssey

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