Every reader of this list will have been influenced by Dweck’s thinking, even if you have never heard of her. Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, she is the promulgator of the “growth mindset” approach. This is in contrast to the “fixed mindset”, where people are unwilling or unable to learn, and see problems as reversals, not opportunities for positive change. Dweck sums up her approach thus “Teachers should focus on students’ efforts and not on their abilities. When students succeed, teachers should praise their efforts or their strategies, not their intelligence. In other words, teachers should help students value effort.” Scarcely any education theorist has made a bigger impact on the practice in schools today than Dweck. It is an immensely positive approach, because it says that with the right effort, improvements will come. In my experience, all great teachers believe in growth mindset, and challenge students to achieve beyond their own limits.
The Seldon List 2017
These 20 figures, ten women, ten men, encompass those who I believe are having or will have the most powerful effect on our schools and universities. Some are household names, many are not. They all should be. Education at every level is riven by major disputes, and now more so than ever. The list of 20 contains those with pungent views on these debates, which include: whether we should be educating young people to lead a good life or merely for jobs; whether a traditional academic curriculum is suitable for all and whether it is right that it fails a third or more; and whether the state or the market should be dominant in deciding the content and delivery of education.
Reducing the figures to just 20 was agonizing: a further ten at least were very close to inclusion. Next year’s table will drop 10 from here. The key factor in the selection is who is setting the agenda for education, whether leaders of individual institutions, politicians and administrators, or academics and writers.
As education affects all of us, far more than we may think, these 20 contain some of the most influential figures in the country today.
Sir Anthony Seldon
Sir Anthony is one of Britain’s leading contemporary historians, educationalist, commentator and political author. Anthony Seldon is currently the Vice Chancellor of Buckingham University. He was head of Brighton College and of Wellington College, two of Britain’s leading independent schools. He is author of over 40 books on contemporary history, including the inside books on the last four Prime Ministers, politics and education, is co-founder of Action for Happiness, honorary historian to Downing Street and a Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company.
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