As a glass half-full type of person, I was immediately intrigued by the title of the book, Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. Over the past few years, I’ve been reading more and more about the importance having a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset. Applying mindsets to math is just what I need to learn more about!
So excited to link up with some fabulous teacher bloggers for a collaborative book study! What better time than summer to read & reflect & of course, start thinking about school beginning! (Sigh. . . in what other job do people do this?!) We will be reading, summarizing and applying one chapter per week. I hope you’ll grab a copy of the book and study along with us. Be sure to post your comments and reflection in the comments section at the bottom! I can’t wait for fall to apply all that I’m learning!
“When we learn a new idea, an electric current ties in our brains, crossing synapses and connecting different areas of the brain. If you learn something deeply, the synaptic activity will create lasting connections in your brain.”, p. 1 Brains can grow, adapt, and change, so EVERYONE can be successful in math with the right teaching and positive messages! Although brain differences can give some people a head start in life, they are not as important as the (brain growth) experiences we have throughout our lives.
A fixed mindset has students believing either they are smart or they are not. Unfortunately, when students are praised (for results; doing something well), they feel good at first, but when they fail or struggle later, they question themselves and whether they are smart. These kids tend to choose easier tasks to ensure success. However, when praised for effort, students choose more challenging tasks.
Students may be unready for some mathematics because they still need to learn some foundational, prerequisite mathematics they have not yet learned, but not because their brain cannot develop the connections because of their age or maturity. When students need new connections, they can learn them.
I have to admit I’ve been guilty of being frustrated when my new fourth graders come in lacking the foundational skills. But WOW, this line struck me:
I have to change MY OWN mindset & give them the right experiences!
3 Tips for the Classroom
Learn more about growth mindsets! WATCH this Ted Talk by Carol Dweck: the power of "not yet" — the idea that we can grow our brain's capacity to learn and to solve problems. In this talk, she describes two ways to think about a problem that’s slightly too hard for you to solve. Are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet?
You can download your copy of the survey here.
Start thinking about yourself as a mathematician. When do you use math in your own life? When do you use a calculator vs. estimating in your head? Being aware of "real life math" will help us help our students. I share my former negative thoughts about math (my fixed mindset), but then how I discovered that I love math, I love teaching math, and I love finding math all around! I share my struggles and successes with my students, emphasizing that I continue to grow and learn, even as an adult.
I'll admit, I read ahead (I couldn't put the book down!) and I'm so excited for all the upcoming practical suggestions and challenges for my teaching. Stop by next Thursday for Chapter 2! I'd love to read your thoughts and comments below!