What intrigued me most after reading was a shift in the concept of what intelligence is.
I was fascinated to see data showing that intelligence has now been proven to be changeable. Ricci described a test that was done as part of a study on IQ. Participants played a brain-boosting game over a long period of time. They got better and better at the challenge, and improved in game performance. When IQ was re-tested afterward, the scores increased!
Like many teachers, I did not realize how truly fluid our IQ levels can be. We were taught as kids that the IQ was the part that you could not change, even as you acquired knowledge.
It turns out that most teachers do not even know what the IQ and cognitive tests even measure. Ricci explained in the book that as we look at our students' scores, most of us do not even know what is being measured! I enjoyed taking a deeper look into my own mindsets regarding intelligence.
This led into a comparison of growth and fixed mindsets, a very popular idea in education these days:
I had already seen this comparison all over the place lately, and it's really important to develop these mindsets. I know it is something I need to work on, but what intrigued me even more was learning about neuroplasticity.
New evidence gives more and more emphasis on neuroplasticity. Our brains are constantly forming new connections, and clearing out old unused ones.
I realized that it's important to show students some of this research, because as they get older, they start to settle into concepts of who is smarter or more capable in different subject areas. I have seen it lead them to give up.
Some of these messages are more subtle than others, but you hear them CONSTANTLY, especially in math class. Even some parents at conferences tend to shrug off being "not math people" or categorize the child into the "smart, high-scoring group" or the "low group." We are surrounding our students with these messages, and it can be really hard to adjust the way we talk to shift these mindsets.
These comments reflect a mix of different parts of both growth mindset and fixed mindset. Our challenge is to help students develop a healthy mental approach to learning.
In the Mindsets in the Classroom book, Ricci showed her data from observing students in different grade levels. It was interesting to see that students in kindergarten displayed 100% growth mindset! Each year of primary school, it dropped lower and lower, until in 3rd grade, growth mindset dropped to 58% and fixed mindset was 42%.
Obviously, teaching teens, we really have our work cut out for us. Our students have spent years settling into their ideas of "who is smart at what."
Here are a few things we can do to get more students aware of their own mindsets and try to shift them a little more towards the growth mindset side.
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