Some people believe that intellectual ability is purely genetic or fixed.
This is a myth. Research now shows that your brain is like a muscle; the more you apply it and struggle, the more it grows. People who learn to recognize this fact about their own brain develop a ‘growth mindset’ and are able to persevere and achieve more.
At Khan Academy we know abilities are not set in stone because we see people improving radically every day. That’s why today we’re embarking on a mission to help the world realize that if you work hard and embrace struggle, you can learn anything:
Please share this video with everyone you know. It was designed to inspire, but also change people’s mindsets towards learning. Together, as a community, we can end the myth that intellectual abilities are fixed and help our friends and families (and ourselves!) learn new things.
I love school. And I love learning and education even better than I love school… even better than I love myself.
That love is what drives my learning and education about school.
Many of you readers know that I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist for much of my life – from about age seven until about age 20. For years and years, more recently, I’ve told a story about how my career pursuit shifted from children’s cancer research and science to educational research and science.
Now, I realize, if I zoom out far enough, I haven’t really pivoted at all. If cancer is basically the mutation of great and healthy cells into devastating and unhealthy cells, then school may very well be like a human organism filled with virtually countless cells – many and most of them being the healthy cells of learning and education, and only a few being the unhealthy cells of certain school attributes gone bad.
I’m committed to helping ensure that the healthy cells in the body win out. And so I am willing to aggressively pursue educational and learning research. To wake up at ridiculous hours to read, write, and study. To tire myself and to experience considerable dead ends, frustrations, and temporary failures. And to learn from the successes and discoveries.
And to not let any of the successes or failures define me. But rather to steer me onward. Because I love learning and education far more than I love school or myself.
Thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert for this prompted reflection.
The letter to parents quoted below came from Mount Vernon Presbyterian School‘s Lower School Division Head, Shelley Clifford. I’m so fortunate that she is my sons’ principal.
Dear Mount Vernon Families,
In the spirit of starting with questions, what do you hope for your child to learn this semester? The Lower School teachers returned on January 6 and reflected upon this question. How might we intentionally use the 94 remaining days of this school year to inspire and encourage our children to pursue their unique passions and gifts? Specifically in the month of January, Lower School will focus on the Mount Vernon Mindset, Innovator.
Innovators explore and experiment in a climate of change. They build resilience through risk-taking and setbacks. Innovators create unique ideas with value and meaning. Kindergartners will practice their empathy and innovation skills by embarking on their first Design Thinking Project. Be sure to ask your Kindergartner about the Gingerbread Challenge. Second graders have already begun exploring the essential question, “How does learning about inventors and inventions affect our outlook on the world and help us be creative thinkers and innovators?”
All students are engaging in visible thinking routines, long-term projects, and discoveries that focus on habits of an innovator. These habits include: starting with questions, engaging in observations, and thriving from collaboration with others.
Regular practice of these skills builds curiosity, so much so we would like to join you in celebrating your child’s sense of wonder as you encourage him or her to observe and experiment at home. Embrace the endless “Why?” questions, and make associations between the strange and the familiar. Finally, collaborate with your learner and encourage him or her to collaborate with other people who may have different perspectives.
If you would like to explore one of our favorite resources on this topic, check out The Innovator’s DNA; here is a link to the book.
So the typical method in classrooms is students are taught methods, then they solve problems. But in this classroom students got big open problems, and then they learned the methods to help them solve them. The students started at these two schools at the same levels in maths achievement, but the students at the problem based schools, ended up scoring at significantly higher levels on the national exam. And I was able to follow up and find the students eight years later, and they also ended up in more professional jobs.
Jo Boaler, speaking in Session 3, EDUC115N How to Learn Math (MOOC) [one of best courses I have engaged in]
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Boaler, J. (2002). Experiencing School Mathematics: Traditional and Reform Approaches to Teaching and Their Impact on Student Learning. (Revised and Expanded Edition ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Association.
Boaler, J. (1998). Open and Closed Mathematics: Student Experiences and Understandings. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 29(1), 41-62.
Boaler, J. (2012, 8-15 July). From Psychological Imprisonment to Intellectual Freedom – The Different Roles that School Mathematics Can Take in Students’ Lives. Paper presented at the 12th International Congress on Mathematical Education, Seoul, Korea.