In 2016, all students in Years 6-8 at Earnshaw are engaged in the Earnshaw Mindset Project (EMP).


EMP is based on the concept of Genius Hour (see What is Genius Hour). Essentially, this project allows students to explore their own passions and encourages innovation, creativity and inquiry learning in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn for one period each week.

They spend several weeks researching the topic before they start creating a product that will be shared with the class/school/world. Deadlines are limited and creativity is encouraged. Throughout the process the teacher facilitates the student projects to ensure that they are on task.


In his article, What is Genius Hour?, Chris Kesler says that Genius Hour originated with the search-engine giant, Google, who allows its engineers to spend 20% of their time working on any pet project that they want. The idea is very simple. Allow people to work on something that interests them, and productivity will go up. Google’s policy has worked so well that it has been said that 50% of Google’s projects have been created during this creative time period. Ever heard of Gmail or Google News? These projects are creations of passionate developers that blossomed from their 20-time projects.


Our students came up with the name Earnshaw Mindset Project, recognising that, if they were to select and direct their own learning, they needed a positive and reflective mindset.

In order to build a shared language and understanding about mindsets, within and across the college community, we are drawing  Carol Dweck work on growth mindsets (watch Carol Dweck’s TED Talk on the Growth Mindset).

ESC Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the understanding that personal qualities and abilities can change. It leads people to take on challenges, persevere in the face of setbacks, and become more effective learners.

The opposite of having a growth mindset is having a fixed mindset, which is the belief that intelligence and abilities cannot be developed.

At Earnshaw, we recognise that developing a Growth Mindset is not just for students.

As adults, we are encouraged to start with ourselves. If we don’t work to shift our own mindset about ourselves and our students, then we won’t work to change many other important things in the system necessary to improve education. We must deeply explore mindsets within ourselves and then gradually work to develop our own growth mindsets and our habits as learners. This means authentically working to become better at what we do throughout our lives, including how we teach and how we create contexts that help students thrive, and making our learning process visible to one another and to students.

Want to know more?

I highly recommend A.J Juliani’s blog: 10 most asked questions about genius hour.

Yours in reimagining learning