Believe in the Possibilities for Learning

We all know about the power of the ‘Growth Mindset’ by now and (hopefully) we all buy into the idea that it’s possible for anyone to learn.  I read a very interesting blog post from the Mindshift organization (started, in part, by NPR) recently about what happens when we “believe in the possibilities” of what teaching and learning can really do.

I think you should take the time to read this blog post so I’ll try to stay as brief as possible but I’d like to highlight some of the main points as a preview:

  • The placebo effect is real and it applies to learning as well.  “When students are informed that it’s possible to improve their IQ, they respond by improving their IQ.”
  • Science shows us that the learning culture can have permanent effects on the brain.  Is the culture in your room as positive as you believe it to be?  Do you have a ‘favorite’ class?  (They know it if you do…and your least favorite class is also aware of their standing!)
  • Building positive relationships is as important as anything and they need to be sincere!  “Inquiry and innovation rely on a high-functioning brain activated by care and acceptance.”
  • Going back to last week’s discussion, the academic skills that we want our students to learn are highly linked to the character traits we also desire…how do we successfully teach those character strengths?

When we did our Strengths Finder work with the Gotuacos it became apparent that many of us have the “Learner” theme in our top five.  I don’t think that it takes a lot of convincing for any of you to believe that learning and growing are possible.  However, I know that the High School recently did a similar strengths activity (the student version of what we did).  It was interesting/sad/scary to hear one high school teacher bemoan the fact that NONE of her advisory students showed the “Learner” theme in their top five.  So for all of us who are energized and excited by the journey of discovery and learning we need to keep in mind that there a lot of students who don’t have this natural tendency…what can we do to foster curiosity and the desire to learn?