Striving for Excellence in Education: Empowering Lifelong Learners and Fostering a Growth Mindset


In the TEDx talk “Striving for Excellence in Education,” Andrew Niemeijer (2013) presents a compelling perspective on what true excellence in education entails. He emphasizes that excellence goes beyond academic achievements and standardized test scores, focusing instead on fostering a growth mindset, promoting curiosity, and empowering students to become lifelong learners. As an educator, watching this video has triggered profound reflections on my teaching practices, the relevance of these concepts to my course work, and how they have influenced my approach to education.

Reactions to the Video

Andrew Niemeijer’s TEDx talk on “Striving for Excellence in Education” evoked a range of emotions and thoughts as I engaged with the content (Niemeijer, 2013). As an educator, I was immediately drawn to the central message that excellence in education should not be limited to academic achievements and standardized test scores. Instead, Niemeijer emphasized the importance of nurturing a growth mindset, fostering curiosity, and empowering students to become lifelong learners.

One of the key aspects of the talk that resonated deeply with me was the shift in focus from grades to the development of essential life skills. For too long, the education system has primarily centered on academic performance as the sole measure of success. However, Niemeijer’s message challenged this narrow perspective and urged educators to consider the holistic development of students (Niemeijer, 2013). This concept aligns with my personal philosophy as an educator, where I believe that education should encompass not only knowledge acquisition but also the cultivation of critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.

Furthermore, Niemeijer’s emphasis on motivation and engagement struck a chord with me. He highlighted the significance of intrinsic motivation, where students are genuinely interested in what they are learning (Niemeijer, 2013). This intrinsic motivation is closely tied to the idea of providing meaningful and relevant learning experiences. As I reflected on my teaching practices, I realized the importance of creating learning opportunities that connect with my students’ interests and experiences. By doing so, I can foster a sense of ownership in their learning journey, which may lead to increased engagement and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

The talk also challenged me to reconsider the role of assessments in education. Traditional summative assessments, such as final exams, may not accurately capture a student’s true potential or growth. Niemeijer’s suggestion of using formative assessments throughout the learning process to monitor progress and provide timely feedback resonated strongly with me (Niemeijer, 2013). As an educator, I now see the value of continuous assessment to inform my instructional practices and identify areas where my students may need additional support or challenge.

Moreover, Niemeijer’s call for personalization and individualization in education prompted me to reflect on my efforts to cater to the diverse needs of my students. Each student enters the classroom with a unique set of abilities, interests, and challenges. As an educator, it is my responsibility to acknowledge these differences and create a learning environment that supports individual growth. Niemeijer’s talk reinforced the significance of differentiating instruction and providing multiple pathways for learning to accommodate varying learning styles (Niemeijer, 2013).

Overall, Andrew Niemeijer’s TEDx talk left a lasting impression on me as an educator (Niemeijer, 2013). It inspired me to critically examine my teaching practices and consider how I can cultivate an environment that fosters excellence beyond academic achievements. By embracing a growth mindset, valuing intrinsic motivation, and personalizing learning experiences, I am confident that I can create a transformative educational journey for my students, empowering them to excel not just in the classroom but in all aspects of their lives.

Relevance to Course Work and Practice as an Educator

The concepts explored in the TEDx talk align closely with my course work on educational psychology and instructional design. Throughout my studies, I have learned about the importance of cultivating a growth mindset in students, where they see challenges as opportunities for learning rather than obstacles to overcome (Niemeijer, 2013). This mindset empowers students to persist through difficulties, take risks, and develop resilience.

In addition, the talk reaffirmed the significance of intrinsic motivation in the learning process. As an educator, I now understand that my role is not just to transmit information but to ignite a passion for learning within my students. By incorporating motivational strategies into my teaching, such as allowing for choice and autonomy, I can cultivate a classroom environment that fosters a genuine love for learning.

The concept of personalization and individualization also struck a chord with me. Each student has unique learning preferences, strengths, and challenges. Acknowledging and accommodating these differences is essential for promoting equitable education. Drawing from my course work on differentiated instruction, I am determined to provide diverse learning opportunities that cater to the needs of every student in my classroom.

Novel Concepts and Insights

One of the novel concepts presented in the video was the idea that excellence in education should not be limited to academics alone. Niemeijer argues that students should be encouraged to explore various fields and develop diverse skills (2013). This perspective has challenged my previous beliefs, pushing me to reconsider the significance of interdisciplinary learning and the value of cultivating a well-rounded education for my students.

Another insightful concept was the role of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in the learning process. While external rewards can encourage short-term performance, true motivation comes from within (Niemeijer, 2013). As an educator, I am now more conscious of creating an environment that nurtures students’ intrinsic motivation. I aim to do this by providing meaningful and relevant learning experiences, encouraging student autonomy, and celebrating their achievements.

Influence on Changing Practice

The TEDx talk has significantly influenced my teaching practice and reshaped my approach to education. I have realized that fostering a growth mindset and intrinsic motivation in my students are crucial for their long-term success and well-being. To achieve this, I have begun incorporating more project-based learning activities and real-world applications into my lessons. These approaches not only enhance engagement but also encourage critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Furthermore, I have embraced formative assessment as a tool for guiding my instruction and providing timely feedback to my students. By assessing their understanding throughout the learning process, I can identify misconceptions early and tailor my teaching accordingly, ensuring that each student progresses at their own pace.


The TEDx talk by Andrew Niemeijer (2013) has been a transformative experience for me as an educator. It has challenged my preconceived notions about excellence in education and inspired me to create a more student-centered and engaging learning environment. By fostering a growth mindset, promoting curiosity, and valuing intrinsic motivation, I hope to inspire my students to strive for excellence in all aspects of their lives.

As I continue my journey as an educator, I will draw from the insights gained from this talk and my course work in educational psychology and instructional design. I am committed to evolving my teaching practices to create an inclusive, motivating, and transformative learning experience for every student in my classroom.


Niemeijer, A. (2013). Striving for excellence in education: Andrew Niemeijer at TEDxAmsterdamED 2013 [Video]. Retrieved from