Friday, 13 March 2015

The Fixed Mindset of Small Boys

The blue Toad has a fixed mindset.  

I was listening to the amazing, inspirational, Carol Dweck #caroldweck #growthmindset (I don't even know how hashtags work, but you never know...) talking about the difference in student attitudes to learning when they have a fixed mindset - either "I am excellent at this" or "I am totally crap at this", with no middle ground - or a growth mindset - "I don't know how to do this ... yet" - and seeing not only opportunities for my own personal growth, and how this could affect my teaching, but visioning the blue Toad and understanding that his mindset is almost totally fixed.

The blue Toad is a clever boy, he is talented at many things, but ever since he was small he has only attempted things once he knew in himself that he could do them, and do them well.  Luckily for him, he can do a lot of things well.  But when confronted with something he can't do well, first try, he refuses to try again and the feeling of total crapness overwhelms him to the point where he just doesn't know what to do with himself.

Until today, I had no idea what this meant, or what I could do to help him.  

I went to the professional development thing today.  I was inspired (that word again) by the obvious sense in what Carol Dweck and Guy Claxton #guyclaxton were explaining about their research and the implications for the education sector.  I could see how growth mindsets could be / are so incredibly vital for citizens of the future, where the only constant will be change, and the necessary life and job skill will be adaptability, and I saw the blue Toad lurking firmly at the extreme fixed end of that continuum.

I came home and watched an example of it, which couldn't have been scripted to prove the point more clearly:  

The pink Toad, who has been learning two different types of dancing for four years, was fitting the moves of her last year's show dance to a different song.  The blue Toad decided he wanted to do it too.  He was taught the moves and was doing quite well remembering them, in a five minute time frame, until he couldn't remember one, whereupon, because his sister attempted to help him, he threw himself on the floor and shouted that he was dumb at dancing and he hated it.

If I had videoed it, it would be the classic 'before'.  Now we have to work to make an 'after'.  This will be a challenge.  I am only just learning about this myself, and I need to put into practice what I am learning almost before I have learned it.  But I can see the absolute necessity of doing this.

So what I have learned is that:
Teaching is learning.  
But parenting is teaching and learning.  
Parenting is way harder.

Actually I think I knew that last bit already.

These are the links that Hobsonville Point Secondary School put up on Facebook today:
I really recommend them.

How are your small people?  How do you help them with learning?  Any comments (and advice) gratefully received.

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