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How to develop a growth mindset with Banjo: a teacher’s perspective

By Liz Golden, B. ED

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire” W.B. Yeats

As a teacher (and subscriber!), I have seen how its possible to develop a growth mindset with Banjo Robinson. Travel is an education in and of itself. As a result, it can have a wonderful effect on children.

The curiosity that globetrotting (or cat-trotting in Banjo’s case) can potentially plant in a young child’s brain is immense! It can also stretch young minds from a fixed to a growth mindset. This therefore enables them to become even more rounded learners -especially at primary level.  

The importance of a growth mindset

If, from a young age, we can help children to discover ways to stretch their brains when they are working in class or at home then we are putting them on the right track. I love to see a child putting up their hand and offering an answer even though they are unsure. It fills me with joy to see a child make a new connection with prior learning. In doing so, discover new ways of doing familiar things, be that in Science, in Maths or English writing.

This way, they discover little by little that they are more creative, innovative and capable than they could ever imagine. Of course, I remind them that successful learning isn’t always a walk in the park. It will at times make them feel uncomfortable, frustrated confused and even angry. But this is a good thing! Thus, they learn to face an unfamiliar challenge and have a go anyway. The ‘have-a-goers’ among us tend to do well in life.

Little Banjo is definitely a ‘have-a-go’ cat and he may be helping children develop all sorts of life and classroom skills in more ways than he could ever know, from curiosity to flexibility and more.

See the world through Banjo’s eyes

As physical travel is restricted for many families at the moment Banjo’s letters are more important now than ever. Here we have a brave, curious and clever cat that goes out into the big (and sometimes daunting) world alone. He shows us how to make new friends, he demonstrates how to develop ourselves through new cultures and new languages. He embodies equality and inclusion.  And of course, he seems to sprinkle fun, love and mindfulness everywhere he trots.

With Banjo, our kids can learn about these 4 important life skills to support a growth mindset:

1. Curiosity

From Mongolia to Madagascar and Canada to Chile, Banjo’s letters ignite a spark that has children immediately wanting to know more about the world around them.  I recently signed up two kids living on the stunning island of Mallorca to Banjo’s letters and their world has opened up hugely. Every day they run into my office and ask “Dondé está Banjo, ahora?”  (Where is Banjo now?), their eyes wide with wonder. Despite a language barrier, they were hooked. This type of curiosity, if fostered from a young age can lay a very good foundation for deeper learning further down the line.

2. Flexibility

Banjo has definitely missed the odd train or bus here and there and I’m pretty sure he has had to rearrange his plans on more than one occasion. Teaching children from an early age that flexibility in life and in learning is key. Travel makes us flexible. I have seen how children with flexible or growth mindsets often fare a little better than children with fixed rigid thinking, especially in the latter years of primary school. That ability to move on to Plan B and experiment with other ways of solving problems is a great skill to have.

3. Open-mindedness

Banjo greets his friends with open paws, no pre-existing notions or prejudices. These letters are cultural gold- the history, the food, the language- and all of it is seen through the eyes of a magical cat. This is a beautiful way to engage children in conversations about cultural diversity and tolerance. Banjo is playing his part in fostering wonderful characteristics in his followers. He is most definitely opening hearts and minds here in Palma, Mallorca.

4. Generosity

Banjo is sharing and caring wherever he goes. Yes, those precious traits that we try to instil in our children and students every day. He shares his words with us, his stories, his recipes and of course his knowledge gathered from being such an phenomenal explorer. How lovely to share with us all that wonderful material. He cares about his little Banjitos! The personalised questions in the PS section also show us how important it is to ask and enquire about others too, to take time to remember birthdays and tooth fairy visits or whatever it may be! This teaches our kids the little social nuances they will need in life. Clever cat!

Lighting the fire

W.B. Yeats was indeed correct. Education is most certainly the lighting of a fire and not the filling of a pail. Travel, in whatever form, is like a fire being lit. Banjo Robinson is throwing out many sparks to his curious young followers via these glorious letters and is in my opinion helping them acquire some very important new skills in a very subtle way.

Maybe someday we will be quoting Banjo Robinson as well as Mr. Yeats. Here’s hoping!

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