Mindsets are the series of beliefs people hold about themselves, which determine their behaviour, outlook and attitude. This lesson explores the concepts of ‘failure’ and ‘mindset’ and helps students understand the importance of approaching tasks and challenges with a growth mindset. This is critical for students' development of resilience and confidence when approaching new tasks.

Year level



60 minutes


In class activity

SEL Competencies



Social awareness

Learning intention

Students understand that learning happens through failure, effort and hard work, and that a growth mindset is the key to this process and to making progress.

Key outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • understand that the language and self-talk we use can assist in developing and improving how we learn

  • recognise that failing is a necessary part of learning

  • recognise that both a fixed and a growth mindset are possible in different contexts

  • understand that we can change our mindset.

Materials needed

  • Access to the ReachOut.com article 'How to challenge a fixed mindset'

  • Post-it notes

  • Whiteboard/smartboard

  • 5 jigsaw puzzles (with at least 100 pieces)

  • 5 Rubik’s Cubes (enough so that multiple student pairs can complete this activity at the same time)

Mapped to

Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities

  • Personal and Social Capability:

    • Social awareness

    • Social management

    • Self-awareness

    • Self-management

  • Critical and Creative Thinking:

  • Inquiring

  • Generating

Show details

Activity 1

Class discussion: What are mindsets?

10 minutes

  1. Hand out or provide access to the ReachOut.com article 'How to challenge a fixed mindset'.

  2. Ask students:

    • What is a mindset?

    • What determines our mindsets?

    • How can we develop a growth mindset?

    • Why is it important to think about how we think?

Activity 2

Group activity: Famous 'failures'

20 minutes

Ask students if they can identify the famous person and guess how they ‘failed’. You could create a slideshow of faces, or divide students into groups to research each person.

Albert Einstein

  • The failure: His teachers called him ‘slow’. He didn’t start to speak until he was four or five years old.

  • The success: Einstein won the Nobel Prize for Physics.

Colonel Sanders

  • The failure: Sanders’s recipe for fried chicken was rejected 1008 times before a restaurant took a chance and began making chicken the Colonel’s way.

  • The success: KFC is now a worldwide brand, making billions of dollars a year.

Oprah Winfrey

  • The failure: Winfrey was fired from her first TV job and told she was ‘unsuitable’ for television.

  • The success: Winfrey became a billionaire through her popular talk show and television network.

J.K. Rowling

  • The failure: Rowling’s Harry Potter books were rejected by 12 publishers before she was finally offered a publishing contract.

  • The success: Rowling’s creation is now the subject of books, movies, stage productions and theme parks.

Katy Perry

  • The failure: Perry left school at 15. She was signed with Columbia Records, where she recorded new music over two years, but was dropped before the record was completed.

  • The success: Perry has won numerous awards and is worth an estimated US$125 million.

Michael Jordan

  • The failure: Jordan is credited with saying: ‘I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.’

  • The success: Jordan entered the National Basketball Association as a professional basketball player for the Chicago Bulls, where he would go on to win six championship titles.

Activity 3

Group work: Solving puzzles

30 minutes

  1. Students work in pairs to solve puzzles.

  2. After each activity, students are to reflect on and discuss with their partner the following questions, which are written on the board:

    • What did you learn by doing the activity?

    • What things did you say in your mind or out aloud when completing the activity?

    • What mistakes did you make that taught you something?

    • Can you apply this learning somewhere else when completing challenging tasks?

    • What did you try hard at during the activity?


Class discussion:

  1. At the end of the activities, students use Post-it notes to answer the following questions:

    • How did you feel while completing one of the activities?

    • What mistakes did you make?

    • How did you overcome these mistakes?

  2. Place the Post-it-notes on the board/wall for other students to see and invite them to read them.

  3. As a class, encourage students to discuss their mistakes and how they tried to overcome them.

Activity 4

Brain-stretching exercise

No time displayed

There are six eggs in the basket. Six people each take one of the eggs. How can it be that one egg is left in the basket?


The last person took the basket with the last egg still inside.


Free teaching resources emailed to you

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest teaching resources on mental health and wellbeing.

To see how we use this information check out our Privacy policy.