What’s The Difference Between Skills & Mindsets?

A friend in my PLN recently responded to one of my tweets with some thought-provoking questions.

My initial response was to say the difference between a skill and a mindset is that mindsets are more of an innate part of us, whereas skills are not necessarily fundamental to our human experience. But let’s take a look, for instance, at the approaches to learning skills encouraged at in the PYP Programme:

  • Thinking skills:
    • Acquisition of knowledge
    • Comprehension
    • Application
    • Analysis
    • Synthesis
    • Evaluation
    • Dialectical thought
    • Metacognition
  • Communication skills: 
    • Listening
    • Speaking
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Viewing
    • Presenting
    • Non-verbal communication
  • Self-management skills:
    • Gross motor skills
    • Fine motor skills
    • Spatial awareness
    • Organization
    • Time management
    • Safety
    • Healthy lifestyle
    • Codes of behavior
    • Informed choices
  • Research skills
    • Formulating questions
    • Observing
    • Planning
    • Collecting data
    • Recording data
    • Organizing data
    • Interpreting data
    • Presenting research findings
  • Social skills:
    • Accepting responsibility
    • Respecting others
    • Cooperating
    • Resolving conflict
    • Group decision-making
    • Adopting a variety of group roles

Clearly, many of these skills are crucial parts of the human experience, that could well be thought of as a mindset, such as metacognition, listening, and respecting others. Meanwhile, the PYP Programme also includes attitudes we work to encourage, including:

  • Appreciation
  • Commitment
  • Confidence
  • Cooperation
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Empathy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Independence
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Tolerance

These are certainly what I would consider fundamental mindsets, or ways of thinking, along with Agency. I think it’s clear that we are always working to cultivate all these skills and mindsets. It’s just that skills are the means by which we cultivate mindsets. 

All that said, because these mindsets are innate, fundamental parts of us all, I believe that if we make room for and honor student voice in our classrooms, they will show us additional, unanticipated means by which we can create a culture of agency, empathy, enthusiasm, etc.

What are ways you seek to cultivate mindsets in your classroom?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto


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