Kettle Lake Elementary School students named their passions while hip-hop artist Blake Brandes wrote them on a large sheet of paper: Legos, books, dogs, football, dancing and singing. To students’ delight, he launched into a freestyle rap on the spot, intertwining references to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with free throws, the Whip/Nae Nae dance and Harry Potter.
“When I say beat you say box. When I say growth. You say mindset,” he called to Kettle students. “Beat!” he yelled. “Box!” they yelled back.
“Growth!” he yelled. “Mindset!” they answered.
“Repeat after me: ‘When I keep going, my brain keeps growing….I don’t quit. That’s called grit.’”
Brandes is scheduled to perform 275 assemblies in 27 states this year for elementary, middle and high schools. His Kent County stops included Kentwood Public’s Valleywood Middle and Cummings Elementary in Grandville Public Schools.
“The growth mindset helps students be resilient and willing to learn new things even when they’re scared to make mistakes and scared they may not be good when they start,” Brandes said.
Hip-Hop Message Connects with Schools’ Themes
Growth mindset is a concept embraced in local schools, including at Kettle Lake where the staff has studied Dweck’s work and Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk on Grit, said Principal Sean McLaughlin. Kentwood Public Schools has also embedded Growth Mindset and Grit into instruction district-wide. It is based on ingraining the beliefs in students that they can get smarter and effort makes them stronger, which leads to higher achievement.
“Many of our classrooms share these concepts with students in an age-appropriate manner. It was impactful to have someone like Blake, who has applied the principles of grit and growth mindset to his own life, share his story with students. He demonstrated what can be accomplished with a positive, growth mindset attitude and plenty of perseverance,” McLaughlin said.
Brandes, of Berkeley, California, achieved success in music business after producing music for singer Ana Free. Their first song. “In My Place” became the hit single in Europe. “If I had told myself that I wasn’t good at music, and I had stopped before we made that song. I would have never been able to have the life I love,” he said.